In a last minute but unsurprising announcement by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), it has confirmed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as its candidate for the upcoming August presidential elections at a lavish presentation event on 1st July, with the attendance of nearly 4,000 party members, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.
Erdoğan, who had previously made clear his aspiration to become the country’s first ever president to be directly elected by popular vote, described the August election as a “milestone” for a “new era” during his acceptance speech. “Those who ask for a ‘neutral’ president in reality want a president who will side with the state against the people. That era is now closed,” he said.
His name was officially announced by AKP Deputy Head Mehmet Ali Şahin, who stressed that the decision had been taken after long consultations, and that all AKP deputies backed the candidacy of the current prime minister.
The announcement came two days after incumbent President Abdullah Gul confirmed that he would not be standing in the presidential elections.
The ruling party’s announcement also follows the news that Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Chairman of the main opposition party CHP said that he had an independent report from a British forensic audio company which had analysed the leaked tape recordings of conversations between PM Erdogan and his son Bilal where Erdogan is instructing his son to “zero” vast amounts of cash being held at his house. The scandalous story of large quantities of cash being stashed in houses around Istanbul emerged following the corruption investigations which were made public on 17th December, 2013. Erdogan denied that he had had these kinds of conversation with his son, saying that the tapes had been dubbed.