Yildirim Says Erdogan to Rejoin Ruling Party Next Week

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will next week rejoin the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that he co-founded after winning a referendum on enhancing his powers, the prime minister said.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Erdogan would be readmitted as a member of the party at a meeting of its parliamentary faction in Ankara on Tuesday.

Erdogan, premier from 2003-2014, had to cut all ties with the AKP after he became president in August 2014 under the existing rules.

But on April 16 Turkish voters approved a new presidential system, which opponents of Erdogan fear will create one man rule but the authorities insist is needed for more efficient governance.

Most of the changes will come into force in 2019 but a key shift -- and effective immediately -- is allowing the president of Turkey to have a party affiliation.

This will allow father-of-four Erdogan to rejoin the AKP, the party he co-founded as an effective Islamic-rooted political force and affectionately describes as his fifth child.

Meanwhile, Yildirim confirmed that the AKP will hold an extraordinary congress on May 21 when Erdogan is expected to take on the party leadership from the premier.

The 'Yes' camp won the referendum with 51.41 percent of the vote against 48.59 percent for the 'No' camp, according to final official results announced late Thursday. 

The opposition alleged major irregularities but its complaints were rejected by the election commission and a top court.

Yet the result was less convincing than hoped for by the AKP and commentators have said that Erdogan will throw himself into party business to ensure the continuation of its political success.

Hurriyet daily columnist Abdulkadir Selvi said that Erdogan will oversee a shake-up of AKP leaders at local level determined by their success in the referendum.

The AKP has dominated politics in Turkey since first winning power in 2002. Supporters hail it for being a stabilizing force in Turkish politics but critics accuse the party of presiding over a creeping Islamization of the country.

Source: Agence France Presse

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