ANKARA: Turkey’s ruling party yesterday confirmed Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as the successor to Recep Tayyip Erdogan as premier and party leader, with both men vowing the handover would herald no change in strategy.
Erdogan, 60, is to be sworn in as president on Thursday and the approval of Davutoglu, 55, from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was a key step in a tightly-choreographed succession process.
Analysts expect the changeover at the top will not change Erdogan’s status as Turkey’s undisputed number one, and both men emphasised that a strict continuity would be maintained. Yet Erdogan rejected suggestions that Davutoglu would simply be a puppet premier, and said the AKP would never be a “one man” party.
In a purely ceremonial vote at a congress a day before Erdogan takes office as president, the AKP overwhelmingly approved Davutoglu, who was the only candidate standing after being nominated by the party executive committee.
Davutoglu and his wife Sare — a practising gynaecologist — then threw red flowers at the thousands of party supporters gathered in the Ankara sports arena. Erdogan — who has ruled Turkey as premier for over a decade with Islamic-tinted and development-focused policies — will be sworn in as president at 1100 GMT today after his victory in the August 10 election.
He will take over from Abdullah Gul, a former close comrade and co-founder of the AKP who appears now to have fallen out with the feisty Erdogan and was barely mentioned at the congress.
In a marathon two-hour speech, Erdogan said the government’s strategy would not change with the handover and said the party had “always excluded personal ambitions and arrogance”.
“Names have no importance. Names change today but our essence, our mission, our spirits, our goals and ideals remain in place.” Erdogan, who has two sons and two daughters, described the party he helped found as his “fifth child” but said the “farewell time” had come.
Under Turkish law, the president should sever all ties with political parties. But Erdogan said the party was not just about one person.