Former President Abdullah Gül has confirmed that Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief advisor İbrahim Kalın paid him a visit but said it was a courtesy call and not intended to prevent his presidential candidacy as claimed.
According to Turkish media reports last week, Erdoğan sent Akar and Kalın to Gül to dissuade him 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 April 24 in order to convince Gül not to run for president.
Speaking to reporters following Friday prayers in İstanbul, Gül said: “It [the visit] took place in public view. It was not secret. It was a courtesy visit. There was no threat or act of disrespect.”
The story about the visit was first published by the Habertürk daily, which later deleted this story from its website and then fired Barış Erkaya, the editor of its website, in a development indicating that it had angered Erdoğan.
Last Saturday, Gül announced that he would not be a candidate in the snap presidential election on June 24, underlining that his decision was due to a lack of consensus between opposition parties.
Holding a press conference in İstanbul, Gül said his name was first mentioned by Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu and that many others also proposed he run for the top post. He said he would have been a candidate if a general consensus had been reached.
“I said I would not turn down the responsibility if a general consensus were reached. I appreciate Mr. Temel’s efforts. It seems there is not such a general demand after all. I will not be a candidate in the upcoming presidential election,” he added.