PHOTO: End of a beautiful relationship? Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Wednesday
In a dramatic power play, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears to have pushed aside his Prime Minister and long-time colleague, Ahmet Davutoğlu.
After an extraordinary meeting of the Central Executive of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday, AKP sources said Davutoğlu will not run for the party’s leadership in an imminent congress. Therefore, he will have to step down as Prime Minister.
Earlier in the day, Erdoğan met Davutoğlu for an hour and 40 minutes. No details were given, but the President said in pointed remarks to neighborhood leaders before the encounter:
You should not forget how you got to your post, what you should do there and what your targets are….
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 [neighborhood leader], a mayor, an MP, a minister, a Prime Minister or a President.
The chain of events leading to yesterday’s showdown started on Sunday, when a new political blog ran a long attack on Davutoğlu. Speculation grew that the author, by “one of those who would sacrifice his soul for the CHIEF”, is a journalist close to Erdoğan.
The blog accused the Prime Minister of being a traitor, another case of “our people turned against us”. It cited two issues: Davutoğlu’s collaboration with the West and “its Trojan horses inside” who want to topple Erdogan, and his blocking of the transition to a Presidential system with a new Constitution.
Davutoğlu responded on Tuesday in an AKP meeting, “If necessary I would turn down any position that many may think a mortal could not leave.” Days earlier, the party’s Central Executive had struck at the Prime Minister by removing his authority to appoint provincial officials.
Davutoğlu’s comments, as well as remarks from officials and participants in the AKP meeting, have fed claims that he may soon resign.
The resignation would not guarantee a smooth path for Erdoğan, according to political sources. They told the daily Hurriyet that Davutoğlu still has influence over about 120 AKP deputies, and there is speculation that he could challenge Erdoğan’s leadership.
Davutoğlu became Prime Minister in August 2014, a day after Erdoğan took the Presidency.