Turkey’s main opposition leader has accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of working to incite a civil war in the country in his recent public remarks, saying that Turks won’t fall for his “civil war cry” and will refuse to shed blood for him, local media reported on Wednesday.
“To the person in the [presidential] palace: You’ve become unable to hear what you’re saying as you see the [diminishing] approval rates [of the government in recent polls]. Now you’ve started to shout a civil war cry,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said early on Wednesday in a series of tweets addressed to the president.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader was referring to a warning delivered by Erdoğan a day earlier for any Turkish citizens preparing to protest against his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, as anger rises over soaring inflation and opposition parties step up their criticism of economic policy.
“They are saying they will take to the streets. Didn’t you see [what happened] on July 15? No matter where you go, just as this nation taught a lesson to the coup plotters on July 15, we will do the same to you,” Erdoğan had said, referring to the attempted coup that targeted his government in 2016.
“As the Public Alliance, we will chase you down wherever you go,” he said, adding that they know very well how to speak to people who don’t understand the “language of the heart.”
The Public Alliance refers to an election alliance between the AKP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
At the time Erdoğan had urged people to take to the streets to protest the coup attempt, and supporters of the AKP government fought a part of the military attempting to overthrow Erdoğan, with clashes killing more than 250 people.
In response to Erdoğan’s remarks on Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu said, “The people won’t fall for this [civil war cry]! This nation won’t shed blood in the streets just so you and your family can live in [presidential] palaces. We’ll send you and your cronies away in the elections.”
The CHP leader also vowed to open Erdoğan’s thousand-room presidential palace in Ankara to the public for three months before giving it to the service of students, so that everyone can see “what a splendor” Erdoğan lived in, if his party comes to power in the next elections.
The Turkish president has been unsettled by the opposition parties, who are demanding he call early elections due to the historic depreciation of the Turkish lira and a record level of inflation.
Over the past several years, Turkey has been suffering from backsliding in its economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers, and establishing one-man rule in a country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.
Critics say the diminishing support for Erdoğan’s government has reinvigorated the opposition, giving it the initiative to lead the political debate rather than reacting to Erdoğan’s maneuvers as they once did.