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Posts tagged ‘Root Path Elections’

Sworn in with new powers, Erdogan leaves on 1st trip

July 10, 2018

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has left for Azerbaijan and the breakaway northern part of ethnically divided Cyprus, making his first foreign trip since being sworn in as Turkey’s first executive president with sweeping powers.

Erdogan’s trip on Tuesday came a day after he took the oath of office and appointed a new 16-member Cabinet, including his son-in-law Berat Albayrak as treasury and finance minister. Under the new system, the office of the prime minister is abolished. The president can issue decrees, prepare the budget and has the power to impose a state of emergency. Critics say the executive presidency amounts to one-man rule.

In decrees published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, Turkey appointed a new chief of staff to replace Gen. Hulusi Akar who was named defense minister.

Japanese PM congratulates Erdogan on election victory


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe congratulated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his success in Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections in a phone call, Turkey’s presidential press office said Thursday.

Erdogan and Abe confirmed their commitment to further enhance bilateral relations in the future, said sources.

Touching upon expediting the construction of a nuclear power plant in Turkey’s northern Sinop province, the two leaders agreed to meet at the G20 Summit that is to be held at the end of 2018 in Argentina’s Buenos Aires.

Recalling that Japan holds the chairmanship of the G20 Summit in 2019, Abe expressed his appreciation to see Erdogan in Japan again.

Erdogan won an absolute majority in the presidential poll with 52.5 percent of the vote, while his main rival Muharrem Ince gathered 30.6 percent.

Source: Anadolu Agency.


Qatari businessman gives away three cars to celebrate Erdoğan’s election victory

June 28 2018

A Qatari businessman vowed to give away three new cars as gifts to celebrate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election victory while suggesting to rename his country’s traditional camel races as “the Erdoğan race,” Turkish daily Yeni Şafak reported on June 27.

Jarallah bin Hamad al-Salameen, a businessman and participant of Qatar’s annual camel races, had vowed before Turkey’s June 24 elections that he would give away three new cars if Erdoğan wins.

After Erdoğan was elected president in the first round of elections, al-Salameen said he was ready to deliver the cars to the competition committee.

“We congratulate the people of Qatar, everyone who loves Erdoğan and the Islamic world. I am gifting three cars to this competition to mark this occasion,” al-Salameen reportedly said.

“I also propose to rename the camel race as the Erdoğan race,” he added.

Dozens of camels race in Qatar’s traditional races every year in the competition also known as the Race of the Sheiks, as most of the animals are owned by the leading families of the Gulf nation.

Although the tradition dates back to the early years of the Islamic period, the human jockeys were recently replaced by “robot jockeys” affixed to their camel’s backs for safety reasons.

Source: Hurriyet.


Erdogan’s election victory praised around world


By Adel Abdelrheem Humaida Elfadol, Menna Ahmed and Abdel Rauof Arnaout


Prominent leaders and personalities from around the world on Monday continued to praise President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following his historic election win on Sunday.

Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party said the Turkish election results indicate “Turkish nation’s trust for AK Party and its alliances, and support for Erdogan and his party’s policies.”

The leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Abdurrahman Mustafa also congratulated the president over his election victory “which revealed the Turkish people’s confidence in Erdogan’s leadership”. Mustafa added he hopes Turkey would continue supporting Syrians in establishing their own democratic and independent country.

In a Twitter message, the chairman of Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars, Yousef al-Qaradawi, congratulated Erdogan and the Turkish nation “for their success in the democracy wedding”.

The general observer of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan, Awadallah Hassan, also congratulated Erdogan over his election success in a Facebook post.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim expressed his “heartiest congratulations” in a letter to the Turkish president, in which he said: “I also congratulate the people of Turkey for their peaceful participation in their nation’s democratic process.”

Ibrahim said Erdogan’s victory was also a victory for the Muslim world “in portraying a modern and progressive face of Islam”.

Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the head of Jerusalem’s Supreme Islamic Authority and the imam of the iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque, said Sunday’s election results was the reaffirmation of the Turkish people’s trust in President Erdogan.

“The election atmosphere in Turkey is a cultural indicator of the Turkish people.

“They have said their word and placed their trust in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with all the objectivity and transparency,” Sabri said.

Erdogan’s success ‘meant for all Muslims’

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, American Muslim opinion leaders said Erdogan’s success meant a lot for the Muslims living around the globe.

The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, congratulated the Turkish nation for the successful election, saying that a high voter turnout marked the polls.

Oussama Jamal, the secretary-general of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, said the Turkish elections were held in democratic maturity and sent a message to the world.

The executive director of the Chicago-based charity Zakat Foundation, Halil Demir also said President Erdogan proved that he was not the president of his ruling AK Party, but the entire country.

Vladimir Potapenko, the deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization — one of the observer organizations for Turkey’s Sunday elections — said in a news conference: “The elections is conducted in accordance with the legislation in force in Turkey, we confirm that all conditions necessary were provided for it.”

He added that their mission termed the elections as “transparent, impartial and democratic”.

Moulana Shabbier Ahmed Saloojee, the rector of Darul Uloom Zakariyya — South Africa’s largest Islamic university — congratulated President Erdogan in a message.

“All Muslims in the world will continue to take benefit from President Erdogan’s leadership, together with the Turkish nation,” he said.

Early Monday morning, Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won absolute majority in the presidential election after 97.7 percent of ballot boxes were opened.

YSK head Sadi Guven also said Justice and Development (AK) Party, Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Good (IYI) Party surpassed the 10 percent threshold in the parliamentary election.

Source: Anadolu Agency.


What’s next for Turkey after vote grants Erdogan vast powers

June 25, 2018

ISTANBUL (AP) — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ushering in a new era for Turkey after weekend elections saw him win a presidency granting him the vastly expanded executive powers he has long sought. But his governing party saw its parliamentary majority slip, leaving him reliant on the support of a small nationalist party.

Critics have reacted with alarm to Erdogan’s victory, saying the results usher in what will effectively be one-man rule, putting someone with increasingly autocratic and intolerant tendencies at the helm of a strategically significant NATO country.

Here is a look at what’s at stake, and what the election results mean for Turkey and its international relations.


The fate of Turkey’s increasingly shaky economy is critical, and much will depend on how Erdogan handles it. In his victory speech, he said his goal was to make his country one of the world’s top 10 economies by 2023, the centenary of the Turkish Republic. But how he will achieve that is unclear.

Turkey has been hit by rising inflation and a struggling currency, which has lost about 20 percent of its value against the dollar since the start of the year. Although the country’s economy grew by about 7 percent last year, analysts warn this was largely fueled by unsustainable grandiose construction projects.

“There are lots of fragilities. When we look at the overall macro picture, the inflation is high, exchange rate is high, interest rates are high, fiscal deficit is high, current account deficit is high,” said economic analyst Ozlem Derici Sengul.

Fadi Hakura of the London-based Chatham House think tank predicted that Turkey is heading toward an economic crisis in the next five years, but noted there were no signs Erdogan would change course on the economy.

“He will continue pursuing the very populist economic policies that are leading Turkey to economic ruin,” Hakura said. “There are no indications that Erdogan will reverse course in terms of his economic populist agenda.”

“That means loosening the purse strings, restraining interest rates, and boosting construction and mega infrastructure projects, as well as supplying cheap credit to consumers and Turkish business. The very policies that are now degrading the value of the lira vis-a-vis the dollar and the euro,” he said.

Erdogan, Hakura noted, is “obsessed with a super-high growth rate, way beyond the capacity of the Turkish economy. And that’s what will lead to economic ruin in Turkey.”

“He’s pursuing Ferrari growth rates while being a … mid-sized car,” Hakura said.


The new system abolishes the prime minister’s position, and grants the president power to appoint ministers, vice presidents and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies. Erdogan, who set the changes in motion with a 2017 referendum, insists this will lead to greater stability and prosperity.

But many fear it puts too much power in the hands of the president in a country lacking the checks and balances of other presidential democracies, such as the United States or France.

“Turkey has cut off its ties with democratic values,” said Muharrem Ince of the secular opposition Republican People’s Party, who came in second in Sunday’s presidential race. “It has transitioned to a one-man regime in the fullest sense.”

France and the U.S. have independent judiciaries, a free press, independent institutions and party-based politics, noted Hakura of Chatham House.

“Those kinds of institutional checks and balances are non-existent … or at least are very weak in Turkey,” Hakura said. “One cannot say that the legal system in Turkey is independent. The national media is completely under government (control) or is loyal to Erdogan.”

Sunday’s elections took place under a state of emergency imposed by Erdogan’s government after a failed 2016 coup. About 50,000 people have been jailed and more than 110,000 civil servants fired in the massive government crackdown. In the run-up to Sunday’s vote, Erdogan had said he would lift the state of emergency if re-elected — something long called for by opposition figures and rights groups.

The candidate who came in third in the presidential election, Selahattin Demirtas, ran his entire campaign from a maximum security prison, where he is being held pending trial on terrorism charges he says are trumped up and politically motivated. The pro-Kurdish HDP party he ran for managed to win enough votes to enter parliament despite nine of its lawmakers, including Demirtas, and thousands of its party members being jailed.

“I think it’s quite clear that human rights conditions in Turkey will probably worsen,” given that the small nationalist party Erdogan has allied with, Devlet Bahceli’s Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, is even more to the right than Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, Hakura said. “There’s no indication that Erdogan will relax the tightening environment that Turkey is now laboring under in terms of media freedoms, human rights and civil liberties.”


How the election results will affect Turkey’s foreign policy will also be a closely watched topic. The country of 81 million people is a significant player on the regional stage, with often tricky, frequently changing relations with neighbors and allies.

The “elections haven’t changed anything” regarding the country’s international relations, said Kerem Oktem, a professor at the University of Graz in Austria, predicting a “continuation of not strategic but tactical foreign policy” in which Ankara veers toward Russia but doesn’t distance itself completely from the West.

Erdogan has frequently taken a combative stance in recent years, particularly against the European Union and the United States following their criticism of his crackdown in the aftermath of the failed 2016 coup. Turkey’s bid to join the EU has come to a stumbling halt, with no indication of renewed efforts to jump-start the process.

Relations with the U.S. have also faltered. Washington has been backing and arming a Kurdish militia in northern Syria to combat the Islamic State group, enraging the Erdogan government, which considers it a terror organization linked to a Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey. More recently, the U.S. Congress raised objections to Turkey’s purchase of F-35 fighter jets after Ankara said it was buying the Russian S-400 missile air defense system.

Ankara is also furious Washington has not extradited Fetullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric who Erdogan has accused of orchestrating the failed coup. Gulen denies involvement.

Turkey’s relations with Russia have seen dramatic fluctuations, with ties recently warming following a long frosty period after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane taking part in the campaign to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government in 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the first foreign leaders to congratulate Erdogan on his election win Sunday.

Turkey also has a significant stake in neighboring Syria, where it mounted a military operation in the north and now controls about 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles) of Syrian territory.

Analysts Oktem and Hakura predicted a continuation of operations against Kurdish fighters in Syria and northern Iraq, with the latter noting that Erdogan’s alliance with the nationalist MHP party would solidify the government’s stance.

“If anything, the MHP is skeptical of the relations with the U.S. and would support a more robust military adventure” against Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, Hakura said. “It’s lukewarm towards Russia.”

The alliance with the MHP will not bring about “any dramatic changes in Turkish foreign policy, except the bilateral relations with Europe and the United States will continue to be testy and challenging,” he said.

Associated Press writers Zeynep Bilginsoy and Bram Janssen in Istanbul contributed to this report.

Turkey’s victorious Erdogan set to assume sweeping powers

June 25, 2018

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for the past 15 years, prepared Monday to extend his rule and take on sweeping new powers after his victory in the country’s landmark presidential and parliamentary elections.

Turkey’s High Electoral Board declared Erdogan, 64, the winner of Sunday’s votes, which usher in a new executive presidential system in which the prime minister’s post is eliminated and executive powers are transferred to the president, who rules with only limited checks and balances.

The Turkish leader is accused by critics of adopting increasingly authoritarian tactics but is loved by supporters for bringing prosperity and stability. Erdogan may be facing rough times ahead, however, because analysts predict an economic downturn for Turkey amid rising inflation and a struggling currency.

His win could also deepen Turkey’s rift with its Western and NATO allies, who are already concerned by the country’s setbacks in democracy and human rights as well as Turkey’s closer ties with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Erdogan a telegram on Monday, congratulating him on his victory, one of the first world leaders to do so.

Turkey’s currency, the lira, rallied Monday over Erdogan’s victory, which reduces instability in the short term. In his victory speech, Erdogan said he would work toward achieving his goal of making Turkey one of the world’s top 10 economies by 2023, when the Turkish Republic marks its centenary.

He also pledged a more “determined” fight against outlawed Kurdish rebels and alleged members of a movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating a 2016 failed coup against his government. Gulen denies involvement.

Some 50,000 people have been arrested and more than 110,000 civil servants have been fired in a massive government crackdown that has taken place under a state of emergency imposed after the coup that is still in place.

“Turkey made its choice in favor of a more determined fight against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and (Gulenists),” Erdogan said. “We will go after terror organizations with stronger determination.”

Under the new system, Erdogan himself will appoint ministers, vice presidents and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies. According to unofficial results that have yet to be confirmed by the electoral board, Erdogan garnered 52.5 percent of the presidential vote, while his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, won 42.5 percent of the parliamentary vote. Erdogan’s closest contender, Muharrem Ince of the secular opposition Republican People’s Party, won 30.7 percent support.

Erdogan’s AKP fell short of winning a parliamentary majority but a better-than-expected performance by its nationalist ally should allow the party to control the 600-seat legislature. Ince, who complained that it was an unfair election, accepted Erdogan’s victory during a news conference Monday.

“There are no significant differences between our records and the Supreme Election Council’s records,” Ince told reporters. “I accept the results of the elections.” The former physics teacher, who led a robust campaign against Erdogan, called on him to end his divisive policies.

“Be the president of 81 million (Turks), embrace everyone,” he said. “That’s what I would have done if I had won.” Still, the 54-year-old politician criticized Turkey’s new system, saying: “Turkey has cut off its ties with democratic values… (Turkey) has transitioned to a one-man regime in the fullest sense.”

Before the start of the news conference, Ince asked a crew from Turkey’s state television TRT to leave the hall, criticizing the publicly-funded organization for ignoring the opposition’s campaign rallies and not allowing other candidates equal airtime to Erdogan during the race. The TRT journalists left.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, whose presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas was forced to campaign from jail, received the more than 10 percent of the vote Sunday, enough to win seats in parliament. In reaction, thousands of its supporters spilled into the streets in celebration.

In a series of Twitter postings, Demirtas praised the party’s success in winning a projected 67 seats out of 600, according to unofficial results. “The fact that I was forced to campaign in detention conditions was the greatest injustice,” Demirtas said. “While other candidates could stage 100 campaign rallies, I was able to send out 100 tweets.”

Demirtas, who won 8.4 percent in the presidential race, has been in pre-trial detention since November 2016 on terror-related charges. He denies any wrongdoing. Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, said Monday it was now up to Erdogan to decide whether Turkey’s relations with the European Union will improve.

Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, said Turkey’s democracy has shortcomings — she cited opposition leaders sitting in jail — but said Erdogan should be given the chance to do that. “We are hoping for the end of the state of emergency (in Turkey,” she told reporters in Brussels.

Elena Becatoros and Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul and Burhan Ozbilici in Ankara contributed.

Erdogan proclaimed winner of Turkey’s presidential election

June 25, 2018

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was proclaimed the winner early Monday of a landmark election that ushers in a government system granting the president sweeping new powers and which critics say will cement what they call a one-man rule.

The presidential vote and a parliamentary election, both held more than a year early, completed NATO-member Turkey’s transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential one, a process started with a voter referendum last year.

“The nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty,” Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul after a near-complete count carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency gave him the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

The head of Turkey’s Supreme Election Council, Sadi Guven, declared Erdogan the winner early Monday after 97.7 of votes had been counted. The electoral board plans to announce final official results on June 29.

Based on unofficial results, five parties passed the 10 percent support threshold required for parties to enter parliament, Guven said. “This election’s victor is democracy, this election’s victory is national will,” Erdogan told a cheering crowd outside his party headquarters in Ankara early Monday, adding that Turkey “will look at its future with so much more trust than it did this morning.”

Earlier, cheering Erdogan supporters waving Turkish flags gathered outside his official residence in Istanbul, chanting “Here’s the president, here’s the commander.” “Justice has been served!” said Cihan Yigici, one of those in the crowd.

Thousands of jubilant supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, also spilled into the streets of the predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir after unofficial results from Anadolu showed the party surpassing the 10 percent threshold and coming in third with 11.5 percent of the parliamentary vote.

The HDP’s performance was a success, particularly considering it campaigned with nine of its lawmakers, including its presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, and thousands of party members in jail. It says more than 350 of its election workers have been detained since April 28.

Revelers waved HDP flags and blared car horns. One party supporter, Nejdet Erke, said he had been “waiting for this emotion” since the morning. Erdogan, 64, insisted the expanded powers of the Turkish presidency will bring prosperity and stability to the country, especially after a failed military coup attempt in 2016. A state of emergency imposed after the coup remains in place.

Some 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 civil servants have been fired under the emergency, which opposition lawmakers say Erdogan has used to stifle dissent. The new system of government abolished the office of prime minister and empowers the president to take over an executive branch and form the government. He will appoint ministers, vice presidents and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies.

The Turkish Parliament will legislate and have the right to ratify or reject the budget. With Erdogan remaining at the helm of his party, a loyal parliamentary majority could reduce checks and balances on his power unless the opposition can wield an effective challenge.

Erdogan’s apparent win comes at a critical time for Turkey. He recently has led a high-stakes foreign affairs gamble, cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin with pledges to install a Russian missile defense system in the NATO-member country.

The president’s critics have warned that Erdogan’s re-election would cement his already firm grip on power and embolden a leader they accuse of showing increasingly autocratic tendencies. According to Anadolu, the near-complete results showed Erdogan winning an outright majority of 52.5 percent, far ahead of the 30.7 percent received by his main challenger, the secular Muharrem Ince.

The HDP’s imprisoned Demirtas was in third place with 8.3 percent according to Anadolu. Demirtas has been jailed pending trial on terrorism-related charges he has called trumped-up and politically motivated.

But Ince said the results carried on Anadolu were not a true reflection of the official vote count by the country’s electoral board. The main opposition party that nominated him for the presidency, the CHP, said it was waiting for the commission’s official announcement.

Erdogan also declared victory for the People’s Alliance, an electoral coalition between his ruling Justice and Development Party and the small Nationalist Movement Party, saying they had a “parliamentary majority” in the 600-member assembly.

The unofficial results for the parliamentary election showed Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, losing its majority, with 293 seats in the 600-seat legislature. However, the small nationalist party the AKP was allied with garnered 49 seats.

“Even though we could not reach out goal in parliament, God willing we will be working to solve that with all our efforts in the People’s Alliance,” Erdogan said. The president, who has never lost an election and has been in power since 2003, initially as prime minister, had faced a more robust, united opposition than ever before. Opposition candidates had vowed to return Turkey to a parliamentary democracy with strong checks and balances and have decried what they call Erdogan’s “one-man rule.”

Erdogan enjoys considerable support in the conservative and pious heartland, having empowered previously disenfranchised groups. From a modest background himself, he presided over an infrastructure boom that modernized Turkey and lifted many out of poverty while also raising Islam’s profile, for instance by lifting a ban on Islamic headscarves in schools and public offices.

But critics say he became increasingly autocratic and intolerant of dissent. The election campaign was heavily skewed in his favor, with opposition candidates struggling to get their speeches aired on television in a country where Erdogan directly or indirectly controls most of the media.

Ince, a 54-year-old former physics teacher, was backed by the center-left opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP. He wooed crowds with an unexpectedly engaging campaign, drawing massive numbers at his rallies in Turkey’s three main cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

More than 59 million Turkish citizens, including 3 million expatriates, were eligible to vote.

Fraser reported from Ankara. Bram Janssen in Istanbul, Sinan Yilmaz in Diyarbakir and Mehmet Guzel in Ankara contributed.

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