Opposition’s ‘project’ to nominate Gül as presidential candidate collapsed: PM Yıldırım

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The opposition’s efforts to find a joint candidate was a “project of political design” and “blew up in their hands,” said Prime Minister Binali Yıdırım, responding to questions from reporters over speculations about former President Abdullah Gül’s candidacy for the upcoming elections.

“There has to be a project engineered behind all these efforts. But the project seems to have failed and blown up in their hands. The project has been unsuccessful,” Yıldırım said to a group of reporters on his return flight to Turkey from Spain on April 25.

Being the founding leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), former president Gül has become the center of attention in Ankara as his name was among those speculated as a candidate for the opposition parties after he had appeared with Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu in an award ceremony on April 24 before meeting with him in person on April 25.

“You cannot maintain recognition for your old position or your new one when you leave the political movement you have participated in for many years and have served in important positions for,” said Yıldırım regarding Gül’s possible candidacy for the opposition.

“What will you have to say about this? Won’t they [the people] ask you, ‘why didn’t you say this when you held these positions? Why didn’t you do anything to fix these things?’” he said.

“People should protect the reputation they have built, they should not throw it away,” said Yıldırım.

Following Yıldırım, Turkey’s former prime and foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also held a press conference on April 26, as his meeting with Gül on April 23 has stirred debate concerning his position on Gül’s candidacy.

“I do not have any intention to leave my AKP identity. For this reason, the AKP’s decision is my decision and the AKP’s candidate Erdoğan is the candidate for all of us,” he said.

Davutoğlu added that he would not run as a candidate for parliamentary lawmaker in the upcoming elections and he does not anticipate any formal position in the AKP afterwards, however, he will “contribute to the party’s activities.”

Opposition’ shuttle continues for alliance

Meanwhile, the meetings between the Republican People’s Party (CHP), İYİ (Good) Party, Felicity Party (SP) and Democrat Party (DP) continue as the opposition tries to mull over strategies for election alliances and presidential candidacies.

The SP leader Temel Karamollaoğlu had a meeting with CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu following his meeting with İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener as the SP reportedly wants Gül to be the joint-candidate of the opposition.

İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener has reiterated many times over the past two days that she would be the candidate from her party in addition to some CHP lawmakers who have opposed Gül’s name as the CHP’s candidate.

“I will be very happy for Gül’s candidacy. I would be glad if he would be a candidate and I would congratulate him. But it is impossible for me to step down from my candidacy,” Akşener said in a program in Ankara on April 26.

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