Main opposition Republican People’s Part (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Tuesday challenged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss a controversial attempted coup in 2016 in a TV debate after he accused the CHP leader of supporting the putschists with a march he recently led.
Speaking during his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “I openly invite this person [Erdoğan] and I use his own words — if you are courageous, if you are not a coward, if you are not a despot, if you are not fearful — to debate the July 15 coup attempt together on a TV station owned by one of your media outlets at a time of your choosing. Let the people learn who is speaking the truth and who is not.”
Kılıçdaroğlu had also invited Erdoğan to a similar challenge before a April 16 constitutional referendum, but Erdoğan failed to respond.
When Kılıçdaroğlu led a 25-day-long March of Justice from Ankara to İstanbul that ended on July 9 with broad public participation, Erdoğan argued that the CHP had reached a point of alliance with terrorist groups.
“You cannot argue that you are marching for justice when you never even imagined marching against terrorist groups, but you have started a march supporting terrorists,” Erdoğan said, addressing Kılıçdaroğlu.
According to Erdoğan, the marchers’ destination was the Qandil Mountains and Pennsylvania, references to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the faith-based Gülen movement, which he accuses of being behind the failed coup.
Kılıçdaroğlu launched the March of Justice in protest of the arrest of CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu. The march ended at Maltepe Prison in İstanbul where Berberoğlu is jailed.
Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison on June 14 for leaking information for a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to jihadists in Syria.
AKP to Kılıçdaroğlu: We won’t bother to talk to you
In response to Kılıçdaroğlu’s invitation to Erdoğan for a TV debate, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Mahir Ünal said on Tuesday that President Erdoğan, who is also the chairman of the AKP, had no intention of talking to him.
“I call on Kılıçdaroğlu here. We won’t bother to talk to you as we know that you will get lost in politics if we don’t talk about you for a while,” he said.