Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received backlash from a high-ranking member of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) after touching on a plan that could have the main opposition party’s newly elected mayor of Istanbul removed from office, said Abdülkadir Selvi, a writer known for his links to the ruling party, in a column for pro-government daily Hürriyet.
The Turkish president talked about the plan this week with the AKP’s Central Executive Board, where the results of the party’s sizable defeat in the Istanbul election rerun on Sunday were under the spotlight, and faced opposition from AKP founding member and former minister Hayati Yazıcı, Selvi said.
Erdoğan discussed legal repercussions faced by the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who has been accused of insulting Ordu governor Seddar Yavuz after he was prevented from using the provincial airport’s VIP lounge on June 5.
The incident came as İmamoğlu campaigned for the rerun of a mayoral election he had won on March 31. The AKP pushed for an annulment of the first vote, a move interpreted by many as a sign of the party’s unwillingness to give up the country’s largest and richest municipality, which also carries tremendous symbolic importance.
The Ordu governor filed a legal complaint against İmamoğlu over the incident, and Erdoğan later commented that the CHP candidate would not be able to become mayor without first apologising to Yavuz.
Erdoğan said that while the judicial decision on the complaint is yet to come, it could “block” İmamoğlu, Selvi said.
Yazıcı responded that even if the CHP mayor is found guilty, it would be unlawful to remove him from his position, said the columnist.
Selvi added that the exchange had “raised tensions” between the president and Yazıcı.
İmamoğlu received his election certificate on Thursday, after beating his AKP rival by over 800,000 votes in Sunday’s rerun.
The CHP candidate’s victory is the first time the AKP and its predecessors have lost Istanbul in local polls since Erdoğan won the mayoral election in 1994.