Turkey’s Erdogan returns as ruling party’s leader

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C), his wife Emine (R) and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (L) greet supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party during an extraordinary convention on, Sunday in Ankara. Erdogan regained his party's leadership. Photo by Burhan Ozbilici/EPA

May 22 (UPI) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday resumed leadership of the ruling party, one month after a referendum gave him additional powers.

Until the April 17 vote, Turkish presidents had to cut ties with their parties to show their neutrality. Erdogan relinquished the role three years ago when he assumed the presidency.

But the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, returned the leadership to Erdogan in an extraordinary convention in Ankara. He received the votes of 1,414 party delegates.

“I am grateful to you for considering me worthy of becoming the leader of the Justice and Development Party once again,” he said after the vote.

Erdogan declared the country is ushering in a new era.

“The coming months will be like spring for every single area in Turkey, from fighting terrorism to the economy, from rights and freedoms to expanding investments,” he said after the vote.

Erodgan co-founded the party in 2001 that has ruled the country since 2002.

Turkey’s first three presidents, including republic founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, belonged to a political party. But party ties were dropped after the country’s 1960 coup.

In another change, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim — who bowed out as party chairman — will serve as acting chairman, representing Erdogan in day-to-day party matters.

The AK Party’s bylaws also added “one nation, one country, one government, one flag.”

And because of the changes, Erdogan could potentially remain president until 2029.

“We will have local elections in March 2019, and general elections and presidential elections in November 2019. We shall not stop. We shall work hard and maintain our humbleness,” Erdogan said Sunday.

Last Tuesday, Erdogan met with President Donald Trump in the White House.


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