Davutoğlu announces he will step down as Turkey’s prime minister

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Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on Thursday that he will step down as the country’s prime minister and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) chairman at an extraordinary congress of his party in late May.

Davutoğlu’s move came at a time of growing disagreements  between himself and the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, over the latter’s drive for more power.

But in a speech he made following a party meeting at the party’s headquarters in Ankara on Thursday, Davutoğlu pledged his loyalty to President Erdoğan, saying he bore no anger to anyone.

Davutoğlu said he and Erdoğan have had “a brotherly relationship.”

“Our relationship is still friendly,” the prime minister said, adding, “You will never hear me say negative things about the president.”

His successor will be chosen when the party’s extraordinary congress meets on May 22.

Davutoğlu, who became prime minister in 2014, after Erdoğan was elected president, had long been seen as subservient to Erdoğan.

But simmering tensions between them boiled over this week, leading to speculation in the Turkish news media about a rift. The tensions apparently reached a breaking point last week, after party officials stripped  Davutoğlu of his power to choose provincial party leaders.

Davutoğlu was said to be resistant to Erdoğan’s long-held ambition to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution and maintain a switch to presidential system in which he would enjoy more executive powers. The post of the president is largely ceremonial in Turkey today.

Recently, Davutoğlu had suggested he was willing to return to peace negotiations to end a long war –which resumed in earnest last year–with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) while Erdoğan refused a return to the negotiation table with the PKK.

 

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