Turkey’s Habertürk daily fired Barış Erkaya, the editor of its website, after he published a news story claiming that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Erdoğan advisor İbrahim Kalın to talk to ex-President Abdullah Gül in an effort to prevent his candidacy in the upcoming presidential election, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has reported.
According to a Habertürk report, Erdoğan sent Akar and Kalın to former President Gül to try to dissuade Gül from running for the presidency in the June 24 snap election.
Akar and Kalın reportedly went to see Gül shortly before a ceremony in İstanbul held in memory of the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan last Tuesday in order to convince Gül not to run for president.
Gül entered the hall where the event was being held along with Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu, raising speculation that he may run for president from the ranks of the SP.
Habertürk deleted its story and relevant social media posts shortly after it posted the news about Erdoğan’s sending Akar and Kalın to talk to Gül.
There has been a heated debate about whether Gül will run for president. On Friday, the ex-president said he would hold a news conference on Saturday and announce his decision on whether to run for the top state post.
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.
Erdoğan and Gül are among the founders of the AKP. Gül served as president between 2007 and 2014. There is long-standing speculation about a rift between Erdoğan and Gül, but the two politicians have so far avoided publicly targeting each other.