Turkish PM, CHP in new duel
Kılıçdaroğlu (R) called the Prime Minister “Tayyip Assad Erdoğan,” while Erdoğan (L) accuses the CHP of terrorizing the streets in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photos, Selahattin SÖNMEZAn already heated-up debate on Republic Day celebrations continued to be fueled yesterday as a battle of words broke out between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Erdoğan accused the CHP of creating new divisions with alternative celebrations to Republic Day, while Kılıçdaroğlu called the Turkish premier “Tayyip Assad Erdoğan,” likening him to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
As arguments over the holiday continue between political parties, the Ankara chief prosecutor launched an investigation over the Oct. 29 march, Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.
Erdoğan accused the CHP of terrorizing the streets of the capital on Republic Day by carrying out a banned march. He described the march as “an attempt to occupy the yard of the former Parliament building.”
“The terrorist organization [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)] is attempting to divide Turkey with arms and bloodshed, while, on the other hand, [the CHP] are seeking discrimination under the mask of Republicanism as they were pursuing divisiveness in the name of secularism in the past,” Erdoğan said in his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting.
Erdoğan’s criticisms on the Republic Day march, held Oct. 29 to mark 89th anniversary of the foundation of Turkish Republic, were harsh. Over 50,000 people waving Turkish flags and carrying posters of republican founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s marched from the former Parliament house to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Atatürk, after several NGOs called for people to attend a “mobilization march.” The march had been banned by the Ankara governorship on the grounds they had received intelligence that “provocative actions might occur.
Police used pepper gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd who gathered in Ulus Square in front of the former Parliament house. However, the crowd was able to march toward Anıtkabir after the police barricade was lifted. Kılıçdaroğlu and number of CHP lawmakers were affected by pepper gas.
Recalling that official ceremonies were held in Ankara’s old Hippodrome area a few hundred meters away from Ulus Square, Erdoğan said the CHP was attempting to create new divisions by hosting alternative celebrations to the Republic Day holiday. He also slammed protests against the ministers carried out during the award ceremony of the WTA Championships tournament in Istanbul, calling protesters “terrorist hooligans.”
At the same moment Erdoğan was speaking at Parliament, Ankara’s chief prosecutor launched a probe on the march.Kılıçdaroğlu responded swiftly to Erdoğan’s statements, speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting.
“He calls [the ones who organized and attended the rallies] illegal organizations. An 80-year-old woman, kids the age of 8 or 9, young people, women, disabled people – they had nothing but flags in their hands. They were celebrating their most joyous national holiday, and [Erdoğan] calls them illegal organizations,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu called the Prime Minister “Tayyip Assad Erdoğan,” while criticizing the governor’s ban on the rally and security forces’ attitude toward demonstrators.“What is it that you are banning? By what logic are you banning it? We need a new title for [Erdoğan]. Tayyip Assad Erdoğan. Is there any difference in what you have done?”“People don’t want him anymore,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “He can’t go out and shake their hands anymore, because the people have had enough.”