Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and his chief advisor, İbrahim Kalın, to former President Abdullah Gül to convince Gül not to run for the presidency in the June 24 election, Turkish media reports said.
According to Habertürk, Erdoğan sent Akar and Kalın to Gül shortly before a ceremony in İstanbul held in memory of the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan last Tuesday in order to convince Gül not to run for president.
Gül entered the hall where the event was being held along with Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu, raising further speculation that he may run for president from the ranks of the SP.
There has been a heated debate about whether Gül will run for president. On Friday, the ex-president said he would hold a news conference on Saturday and announce his decision on whether to run for the top state post.
Turkey will hold snap presidential and general elections on June 24, a year and a half earlier than originally scheduled.
The ruling Justice and Development’s Party’s (AKP) presidential candidate is the incumbent President Erdoğan.
Erdoğan and Gül are among the founders of the AKP. Gül served as president between 2007 and 2014. There is long-standing speculation about a rift between Erdoğan and Gül, but the two politicians have so far avoided publicly targeting each other.
In the meantime, Habertürk deleted its story and relevant social media posts shortly after it posted the news about Erdoğan’s sending Akar and Kalın to talk to Gül. Habertürk also fired Barış Erkaya, editor-in-chief of its website over the related news story.
Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday. If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 257 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 25, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 198 were under arrest pending trial while only 59 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 141 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down about 200 media outlets after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)