Turkey’s Ruling Party Elects President Erdogan as Leader

Turkey’s Ruling Party Elects  President Erdogan as LeaderTurkey’s Ruling Party Elects  President Erdogan as Leader

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned as leader of Turkey’s ruling party on Sunday, pushing back criticism that his tenure has curtailed freedoms and polarized the country as he vowed to serve the nation and combat terror.

The Justice and Development Party, or AK Party, reelected Erdogan, its co-founder, at a congress where he was the only candidate for chairman. A narrow victory in a referendum last month to expand the powers of the Turkish presidency allows him to be both the head of state and of a political party, ABC reported.

Speaking to tens of thousands of people in Ankara, Erdogan said he was back after “998 days of separation” from the party and outlined a vision for its immediate future and elections scheduled for November 2019 with new executive and grassroots teams.

“This congress is the AK Party’s rebirth,” he said before the vote. “AK Party is not just its voters’ party; it’s the party for all of our 80 million citizens.”

Elected with 1,414 votes, Erdogan set the party’s course for what he called a “new era” of reforms.

Erdogan was forced to cut his formal ties to the party when he became the country’s first directly elected president in 2014. Last month’s referendum eliminated a constitutional requirement mandating that presidents be neutral and cut ties with their political parties.

Critics say the referendum transforming Turkey’s parliamentary governing system to an executive presidency was marred by allegations of election fraud. The vote took place under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of last year’s failed coup.

Erdogan defended the state of emergency and said it would remain in place “until the situation reaches peace and welfare”. He said it had not affected civil rights.

Turkey blames the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for the July 15 coup attempt that left nearly 270 dead—a charge Gulen has denied.

Turkey considers the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in Syria a terror organization and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has waged a three-decade-long insurgency against the Turkish state and is blamed for multiple deadly bombings since 2015.

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