Saturday 10 December 2016

Erdogan's ally set to become Turkey's prime minister

Susan Fraser in Ankara

Published 23/05/2016 | 02:30

Turkey’s Transport Minister Binali Yildirim (second from left) poses with members of his AKP party at a congress in Ankara. Photo: Reuters
Turkey’s Transport Minister Binali Yildirim (second from left) poses with members of his AKP party at a congress in Ankara. Photo: Reuters

Turkey's ruling party held a special convention yesterday to confirm a long-time ally of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as its new chairman and next prime minister, a move that is likely to consolidate the Turkish leader's hold on power.

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Binali Yildirim, the transport and communications minister and a founding member of the governing Justice and Development Party, is set to replace prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who announced earlier this month that he is stepping down amid differences with Erdogan.

Mr Yildirim (60), who is running unopposed for the party's leadership, is widely expected to be more in tune with Mr Erdogan, who is pushing for an overhaul of the constitution that would give the largely ceremonial presidency executive powers.

Traditionally, the post of prime minister in Turkey goes to the leader of the largest party in parliament, and Mr Erdogan is expected to formally ask Mr Yildirim to form a new government after the convention.

The change in party leadership comes at a time when Nato member Turkey is facing an array of security threats including renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the south east, a wave of suicide bombings linked to Kurdish and Islamic State militants, as well as growing repercussions from the war in neighbouring Syria.

The transition also coincides with growing tensions with the European Union over a controversial deal to reduce the flow of illegal migrants from Turkey to Greece, which Mr Davutoglu helped broker.

Davutoglu - a one-time adviser to Erdogan and a former foreign minister - fell out with the president over an array of issues including the possibility of peace talks with Kurdish rebels, the pre-trial detention of journalists accused of spying and academics accused of supporting terrorism.

Irish Independent

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