Ruling AKP moves to expel deputy known for close ties with Gülen movement
Another deputy might part ways from the AKP as the party moved to expel Istanbul MP Muhammed Çetin. DAILY NEWS photoThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has moved to expel yet another of its lawmakers, sending Istanbul deputy Muhammed Çetin to its disciplinary board on Jan. 16.
Çetin, who was among the small group of AKP deputies who criticized the government’s position on the test prep schools (dershanes) row, is known to be close to the movement of the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, according to daily Hürriyet.
Plans to shut down dershanes caused a huge rift between the Gülen’s movement and the AKP, which has developed into trench warfare with the ongoing graft probes implicating four ex-Cabinet members. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other government officials have accused the followers of the Islamic scholar, who are known to hold key positions inside the police and the judiciary, of orchestrating the probes.
The request for Çetin’s expulsion came after a complaint was filed by fellow AKP deputies Volakn Bozkır and Ali Aşlık, daily Hürriyet reported. Both deputies allege that Çetin accused and insulted them during discussions regarding the graft scandal.
All four deputies who were sent to disciplinary committee following the test prep schools row had resigned before a decision on their situation was announced.
With Çetin’s departure, the number of deputies who have parted ways with the AKP will rise to six since the graft scandal broke and to eight since the test prep school row erupted, in a wave of defections unprecedented in the party’s history.
Kütahya MP İdris Bal was the first lawmaker to quit after being sent to the disciplinary board late November, shortly followed by Istanbul MP Hakan Şükür, the legendary former international soccer player who is openly close to Gülen.
Former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin opened the defections season following the damaging Dec. 17 raids in which the sons of three ex-ministers were taken into custody along with other prominent bureaucrats and businessman.
He was followed by former Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, İzmir MP Erdal Kalkan and Ankara MP Haluk Özdalga, who were all sent to the disciplinary board for expressing criticism of the AKP’s response to the probes.
Burdur deputy Hasan Hami Yıldırım, who took to Twitter to criticize the removal of the lead prosecutor in a new corruption case, was the most recent lawmaker to part ways with the party.