Ankara, Sep 17 () - Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has compared his affection for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to that of a parent for their children, amid reports that the constitutionally impartial president flexed his muscles to intimately shape the party at its September 12 congress.
“I cannot see anything more natural than [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu meeting with me before the congress and me sharing my convictions with him” Erdoğan said in an interview late on Sept. 16, describing news reports on the issue as “very awful.”
“I am the founding leader of this party. I am not one of the founders, I am the founding leader. I am the personality who brought these founders together and exerted this effort. So like a mother and father who follow their child, I also followed this first congress” he added, referring to the fact that the Sept. 12 congress of the AKP, founded in 2001, was its first regular congress without the presence of its founding leader.
Erdoğan made his clout felt at the event with loyal names elected to the party’s decision-making body, overshadowing Davutoğlu’s preferences after the latter’s reelection as AKP leader.“On gis own initiative, Mr. Davutoğlu came over before the congress and asked for my thoughts. I shared my thoughts and convictions with him,” he said. “Is it possible to see this as guardianship? It is not.”
For his part, Davutoğlu downplayed reports about Erdoğan’s clout over the congress, as well as an attempt by one of the president’s closest aides, Binali Yıldırım, to challenge his leadership.
Speaking just hours before Erdoğan’s interview, the prime minister was asked about reports - denied so far - that former Transport Minister Yıldırım had tested the waters to challenge him for the leadership shortly before the congress by contacting scores of AKP delegates over his potential return as party leader.
“In those days, I did not concern myself with such gossip because I had a lot of work to do,” Davutoğlu said in an interview with private broadcaster NTV on Sept. 16, referring to coordination of military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq amid continued attacks against security forces by PKK militants.
“When that was the situation, I didn’t deal with those rumors, I didn’t think of them and I didn’t give them credit either. Showing me that I was right not to give credit, the wholehearted enthusiasm and support for me given by the 1,353 delegates is sufficient” he added.