Erdogan takes reins of Turkey's ruling party

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) delegates on Sunday elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again as the party leader.

ANKARA, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) delegates on Sunday elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again as the party leader in an extraordinary congress in the capital Ankara.

The reelection of Erdogan as the head of the AKP is the first time in modern Turkish history for a president to be affiliated with and lead a political party, a state of affairs previously not allowed by the Constitution.

However, the approval by 51 percent of voters in a referendum on a constitutional reform package prepared by the AKP and its far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allowed Erdogan to register as a party member and head it.

A total of 1,414 AKP delegates from across 81 provinces in Turkey chose Erdogan as the party chairman.

The current Turkish president had previously quit the position to be able to run as a candidate in the August 2014 presidential elections.

“Now, 998 days later we are once again here together, in this very hall,” Erdogan told thousands of his supporters who gathered at the Ankara Arena indoor sporting complex.

Of the 1,417 delegates’ votes cast, Erdogan did not receive only three of those which were counted invalid, reported Kurdistan24's Ankara bureau.

In his speech to the congress which elected him as the AKP leader for the fifth time since 2003, Erdogan promised reforms and democracy.

However, he took a hard line against opponents of an ongoing state of emergency in the country.

“How dare you ask when the state of emergency will be lifted? It won’t be. Until we reach tranquility and prosperity,” declared Erdogan.

He reminded of challenges the Turkish state faces from Kurdish groups that fight for self-rule and the Gulen Movement, an Islamic organization Erdogan accuses of orchestrating the failed July 2016 military coup.

Erdogan criticized the European Union (EU) for which his country’s membership applications still lingers.

He said it was up to the EU to decide whether it wanted to improve relations with Turkey by honoring a deal on the Syrian refugee crisis between the two sides and allowing free movement of Turks in the Schengen Zone.

The Turkish President called the AKP congress one of revival, signaling a “swift renewal” within the party’s provincial and township ranks.

During the convention, AKP members also amended party bylaws.

One such amendment was the insertion of the slogan much uttered by Erdogan in public speeches “one nation, one flag, one homeland, and one state” into the bylaws.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

(Kurdistan24 Ankara bureau contributed to this report)