Ex-President Gül to announce decision on presidential candidacy on Saturday

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Turkey's former President Abdullah Gül (Berk Ozkan / Anadolu Agency)

Amid ongoing debates as to whether he will run for the presidency in Turkey’s June 24 presidential election, former Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said he will announce his decision regarding candidacy on Saturday.

Gül, who spoke to reporters after Friday prayers in İstanbul, said he did not want to talk about the debate over his possible presidential candidacy in front of a mosque as it would be inappropriate.

“I don’t want to talk about this in front of a mosque and reveal my thoughts. I will invite you tomorrow, and I will explain in detail what I’m thinking and what I’ll do. I don’t find speaking about things that are important for the future of our nation to be appropriate in front of a mosque,” Gül told reporters.

Gül refused to answer when asked by a reporter whether current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent him an intermediary to convince him not to run for president.

“Our country is undergoing an extraordinary election, in fact, elections. I hope the results of these elections will be beneficial for Turkey. Undoubtedly elections bring along expectations, debates and excitement. These are a part of it, and they are inevitable,” said Gül.

Turkey will hold snap presidential and general elections on June 24, a year and a half earlier than originally scheduled.

The ruling Justice and Development’s Party’s (AKP) presidential candidate is the incumbent President Erdoğan. The İYİ Party has recently named the party’s chairwoman Meral Akşener to represent it in the election, while the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has nominated Selahattin Demirtaş, the party’s former co-chairperson who is currently in jail, as its presidential candidate.

The CHP has not yet announced who the party’s candidate will be.

There are many people who say Gül will run for the presidency and that he should run. Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu recently had talks with Gül in a development that raised speculation about Gül’s possible candidacy from the SP.

On Tuesday, Erdoğan said the possible candidacy of Gül from the opposition side would not change his plans for the June 24 snap presidential and parliamentary elections.

“I don’t have a problem with that. We’ll see who is in the squares to campaign. We’ll see who is there and then go on our way. We decide everything including the scenarios we want. Those who oppose us should get themselves ready with that in mind,” Erdoğan told reporters who asked about former President Gül’s possible candidacy in the presidential election, following a speech at the AKP group meeting in Parliament.

On  Thursday, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu expressed support for Erdoğan in the presidential race slated for June 24, rebutting speculation that he would support Gül in the event he runs for president.

“While my membership continues in [the Justice and Development Party] AKP, i will not be part of any political activity outside the party. If I do, it will be the end of my AKP identity. I don have any intention of doing so,” said Davutoğlu.

“In this context, any decision of the AKP is my decision, too. Mr. President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] is also my candidate.”

Davutoğlu had to step down in May 2016 at Erdoğan’s order.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also said in a statement on Tuesday that he would not take part in a formation against the AKP, in remarks meant to imply that he  wouldl back Erdoğan’s presidential bid.

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