Turkish autocratic President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has demanded the mayors of 6 provinces, including Ankara Metropolitan Municipality’s Melih Gökçek, to resign, reported by pro-government TV channel Kanal D on Monday.
It was reported by Kanal D television that Erdoğan has requested the Bursa Municipality Mayor Recep Altepe, Balıkesir Municipality Mayor Ahmet Edip Uğur, Uşak Municipality Mayor Nurullah Şahan, Niğde Municipality Mayor Faruk Akdoğan and Nevşehir Municipality Mayor Hasan Ünver to resign beside of Ankara Municipality Mayor Melih Gökçek.
It was claimed that Erdoğan asked these mayors to resign before AKP’s provincial party congresses to be held on February 2018.
Meanwhile, the Spokesperson of Turkish government and Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has stated following a question by journalists after a cabinet meeting on Monday evening that “I am just a government spokesperson, not AKP spokesperson and I have no information about this issue. If you ask to our party spokesperson you can get much better information from them.”
“There is no such thing at the moment. But that does not mean it will not happen in the future,” Erdoğan told reporters on Tuesday, commenting on reports that Gökçek was among the mayors expected to quit after the resignation of a number of other AKP mayors.
Erdoğan hinted that the recent resignations were part of the party’s preparations ahead of the 2019 elections. “I hope we will prepare for the elections with a much livelier, more dynamic, stronger structure,” he said.
Prior to Erdoğan’s remarks, the AKP’s spokesperson rejected claims about the resignation of the long-time mayor of the Turkish capital. “The media reports about the resignation of Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek do not reflect the truth,” AKP Spokesman and Deputy Chair Mahir Ünal told reporters on Tuesday.
İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş had also announced his resignation on September 22 after 13 years of service. His resignation had followed some disputes in the municipality administration, after Topbaş handed back five previously agreed zoning amendments on the grounds that they would damage the municipal council. The amendments were then approved once again without changes with the votes of AKP council members.
Düzce Mayor Mehmet Keleş was also obliged by AKP and Erdoğan to resign on Monday.