Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said there are so many criminal complaints against him that “he has lost count,” adding that prosecutors deem even the slightest criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “an insult.”
“I don’t know how many cases have been initiated against me. They open cases morning, noon and night,” Kılıçdaroğlu told a group of journalists in Ankara on Dec. 21.
“We will not stop speaking our minds. They want to silence us with a criminal process but we will not stay silent,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu said prosecutors deem almost all criticism of Erdoğan an “insult” and act accordingly.
“But he is not only the president, he is also the leader of the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP,” he added.
The main opposition leader reiterated his party’s objection to recent constitutional changes that allow presidents to remain affiliated to political parties.
“Such a thing is unconstitutional, because it violates the principle of impartiality,” he said.
“When we voice our criticism, it is deemed an insult to the president, even though he is allowed to fiercely criticize the main opposition during speeches at his party’s provincial congresses. They should add an article to the constitution that states: ‘Nobody can criticize the person who sits at the presidential post. Everybody should stay silent no matter what he or she says,’” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu also stated that the main opposition party was “the only party that criticizes the government,” and that the CHP’s position was “instrumental to democracy.”
“No other party criticizes the government. They should be grateful for our existence. Thanks to us they can tell the West there is democracy here,” he said.
Referring to the imprisonment of CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu and other lawmakers, Kılıçdaroğlu said they were all “political cases.”
“The prosecutor’s demand for punishment before evidence is gathered clearly indicates the type of situation [we’re in]. They say: ‘Let’s punish as soon as possible, let’s deliver a verdict as soon as possible.’ This is nothing more than one person using state judges and prosecutors as instruments of revenge. Completely political,” the CHP head said.
CHP anticipates to win in 2019
As Turkey prepares for triple elections in 2019, when the constitutional changes approved in a referendum last April will fully go into effect, Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP anticipates gaining the majority of votes at the presidential election.
“Our aim is not 50 plus one but at least 60 percent of the votes, since the only way to save Turkey from the predicament it is in right now is to receive 60 percent and to build democracy from scratch with the support of the public,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.
He stated that the snap elections would only be issued if the AKP found it favorable for its own interests, expressing that the CHP however would be ready for either possibility.
“All our work is focused on early elections. We are making our inner-party preparations. We do not seek a specific alliance,” he said.
“We hope 2018 will be better than 2017 because we have experienced many sad things in 2017, including political tensions,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.
“At this point, we are facing a political understanding that cannot stand criticism. They have to learn from criticisms,” he added.