Uncertainty over CHP’s presidential candidate persists

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Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has not yet announced who the party’s presidential candidate will be in an election to be held on June 24, although three CHP deputies have thus far revealed their intention to run for the top state post.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday called snap elections for June 24, saying economic challenges and the war in Syria meant the country must switch quickly to the powerful executive presidency that comes into effect with the new vote.

The announcement was made after he held talks with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who a day earlier had floated the prospect of an early election.

The MHP is forming an alliance with Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the parliamentary elections and will support Erdoğan’s presidency. The MHP will not field its own candidate.

As for the CHP, the situation is still uncertain.

On Friday, CHP Deputy Chairman and Ardahan deputy Öztürk Yılmaz announced at a news conference that he wants to run for president on June 24.

Yılmaz said he had shared his intention with CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu about his candidacy plans and that if Kılıçdaroğlu is not considering a presidential run, Yılmaz would put his name forward.

Yılmaz is the former consul general of the Turkish consulate in Mosul. He was held hostage by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for 101 days along with 48 others from the mission after the consulate was raided by ISIL militants on June 11, 2014.

Another CHP deputy, Didem Engin, representing İstanbul, also announced on Friday her intention to run for president. She said in an e-mail to media outlets that she wants to compete for the presidency with a roadmap that will save Turkey from the darkness in which it finds itself in the areas of economy, agriculture and foreign policy.

CHP Yalova deputy Muharrem İnce is also considering a run for the presidency, according to Turkish media reports, and will announce his candidacy after meeting with Kılıçdaroğlu to make sure Kılıçdaroğlu is not running for the post.

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