Turkey’s set AKP to call for extraordinary congress: Sources

Turkey’s set AKP to call for extraordinary congress: Sources

Turkey’s set AKP to call for extraordinary congress: Sources

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu pose for a photograph at the start of a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. AP photo

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will hold a crucial press meeting on May 5 following an extraordinary Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting earlier the same day, according to reports that came after the PM met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan amid rumors of a resignation. 

Reports and sources say the party will hold a congress soon, with the PM not running for the seat.

The meeting between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan at the Presidential Palace lasted for an hour and 40 minutes.

Presidential sources said no further statement would be made, noting only that the pair’s regular meeting had ended.

However, prime ministry sources said the party MYK would convene to discuss the matter of a congress. 

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) sources told the Hürriyet Daily News that Davutoğlu would not run for a seat in the congress. 

Still, the congress might not be entirely smooth since the PM has a clout over some 120 deputies, sources told the Daily News, asking to remain anonymous. 

Broadcaster CNN Türk quoted sources as saying the congress would be held this month. 

The relations were reportedly tense between the two statesmen amid fresh rumors suggesting that Davutoğlu may be planning to resign after saying on May 3 that he would not hesitate to “walk away from any job position.” 

The regular “State Day” meeting between the two generally takes place on Thursdays, but in Erdoğan’s official schedule posted in the early hours of May 4, it was seen that his regular weekly meeting with Davutoğlu had been moved forward.

Erdoğan said “you should not forget how you got your post,” in pointed remarks before the meeting. 

“There is no difference between a village head who could not win the hearts of the people in his village or neighborhood and a president who could not win the support of his people,” Erdoğan said in Ankara, addressing a group of neighborhood heads (muhtars) on May 4. 

“What matters is that you should not forget how you got to your post, what you should do there and what your targets are,” he said, adding that those who win popular support are “invincible.”

“Posts are a means to serve the people. Your hearts and minds should work to serve the nation regardless of whether you’re a muhtar, a mayor, an MP, a minister, a prime minister or a president,” Erdoğan said.

The meeting sparked additional interest as it came after an address by Davutoğlu to his party deputies on May 3 in parliament that lasted just 26 minutes – the shortest he has ever delivered as leader of the AKP. 

Davutoğlu’s May 3 speech came after the AKP’s highest decision-making body, the 50-seat Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), ruled to remove his authority to appoint provincial officials on April 29.

“If necessary I would turn down any position that many may think a mortal could not leave,” he said, adding to speculation that he was ready to leave his position due to a challenge to his leadership from the founding leader of the party, Erdoğan. 

Davutoğlu became prime minister on Aug. 27, 2014, a day after Erdoğan became president. Davutoğlu’s leadership came after a period of speculation on who would replace Erdoğan in the party after Erdoğan’s election to the presidency.

The decision by the MKYK to remove Davutoğlu’s right to appoint regional party officials has been widely seen as the opening salvo in a conflict to undermine his authority. Current MKYK members were elected at a September 2015 party congress in which the president, who the constitution stipulates must remain impartial, reportedly flexed his muscles to closely shape the party. Erdoğan made his clout felt in the congress by having those personally loyal to him elected to the MKYK, overshadowing Davutoğlu’s preferences. At the time, reports circulated before the congress that İzmir deputy Binali Yıldırım, one of Erdoğan’s closest aides who returned to cabinet as the transport minister after the Nov. 1 election, was among the 47 MKYK members who signed in favor of the April 29 decision.

“I wouldn’t allow this pure movement and its pure-hearted staff – the only hope of the oppressed all over the world – to become sad,” Davutoğlu vowed in his May 3 speech.

The parliamentary group meeting was followed by a meeting of the MYK, the lower body of the ruling AKP. It was the MYK’s shortest ever meeting, lasting just around 50 minutes.

According to daily Hürriyet columnist Abdülkadir Selvi, Davutoğlu was asked during the MYK meeting about his remarks.

“I haven’t made my decision yet. I’m still in the decision stage. I’ve been assessing the situation,” Davutoğlu said in response, Selvi wrote, citing sources from the AKP.

“Tonight is Miraç Kandili [the day of the Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven]. We will contemplate. We will recall. We will review ourselves,” Davutoğlu reportedly said, underlining that he would not be involved in any move that would “harm the AKP.”

A member of the MYK, speaking to Selvi after the meeting, said the prime minister used “open-ended expressions.”

According to the AKP’s internal regulations, the right to appoint local party heads originally belonged to the MKYK. However, that right was later given to Erdoğan in 2002, only a year after the party was founded.
The April 29 move came after rumors that Davutoğlu did not consider recommendations from the presidency in recent appointment decisions.

In the past months, the executives of around 15 provincial and district party bodies have been reshuffled.
During the MYK meeting on May 3, Davutoğlu asked Mustafa Ataş, the AKP’s deputy chair in charge of party organization – who Davutoğlu uses to appoint district and provincial heads of the party – to join AKP provincial chairs to brief the MYK about the reasons behind the appointments, daily Hürriyet reported on May 4.

Some party sources said Davutoğlu’s speech at the parliamentary group meeting was marked by “sadness and resentment,” a sign that “sustaining the relationship between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan has become more difficult.”