Meral Akşener,, the leader of Turkey’s opposition İYİ (Good) Party, has put the blame on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the massive damage caused by earthquakes that hit the country’s south this month, leading to more than 42,000 deaths, according to Turkish media outlets.
Akşener, who kept silent in the first days of the twin earthquakes, registering a magnitude of 7.8. and 7.5 and which hit 11 provinces in the country’s south and southeast on Feb. 6, said it was Erdoğan and his “one-man” system that were responsible for the vast devastation caused by the earthquakes.
Her remarks came during a party meeting on Wednesday.
Akşener said it is reckless and dishonest to present the earthquakes as “destiny’s plan” in an attempt to mask the failure of the government to take the necessary precautions before the tragedy.
Erdoğan received widespread criticism when he, during a visit to Kahramanmaraş, the epicenter of the Feb. 6 earthquakes, on Feb. 8 linked the deaths caused by the disaster to “destiny’s plan,” a phrase often used by him in the wake of disasters that his government is accused of failing to take precautions for in advance.
Akşener said the “one-man regime” in Turkey produces only crisis and disasters.
“It is true that earthquakes are natural disasters, but the person who is responsible for this natural disaster ending in a tragedy is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. … the epicenter of this great tragedy caused by incompetent people is Beştepe,” said Akşener, referring to the Ankara neighborhood where Erdoğan’s presidential palace is located.
Other opposition figures such as main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Gelecek Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu and Deva Party leader Ali Babacan as well as jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş have all put the blame on Erdoğan and his government for the catastrophic toll of the earthquake.
They say Erdoğan’s one-man rule, which is not subject to any checks or balances and deprives state agencies of the opportunity to make decisions quickly in times of crisis, as well as his government filling state posts with cronies have all played a role in the scale of the disaster being so huge.