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Leaked CHP online meeting sparks debate in party

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A video recording of an online meeting of some officials from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chaired by İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has been leaked online, sparking a debate within the party, which is facing calls for a leadership change in the wake of an election defeat in May.

A video of some 15 minutes of the online meeting that was secretly recorded was released on YouTube on Tuesday by an account named “Değişim Gerçeği” (the truth of change) with the title “Here is the betrayal of the century! A historic betrayal of Kılıçdaroğlu!” in reference to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

The account also described the online meeting as “İmamoğlu’s secret coup meeting with the A-Team of change.”

The video showed parliamentary group chairman Özgür Özel, parliamentary group deputy chairman Gökhan Günaydın, MP Engin Altay and party council members Tekin Bingöl, Onursal Adıgüzel and Bülent Tezcan as among the participants, in addition to İmamoğlu.

The CHP members are seen in the video talking about a text that some members would sign to summon the party council to a meeting, where the objections of dismissed provincial and district executives of the CHP would be discussed. They also talk about the prospects of holding an extraordinary party meeting.

Some CHP Central Executive Board (MYK) members asked for the resignation of Özel and Günaydın from their posts in the party due to their participation in the meeting with İmamoğlu.

CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak said on Wednesday that the party administration did not know about the online meeting chaired by İmamoğlu, describing the meeting as being “unethical.”

Meanwhile, İmamoğlu on Wednesday talked about the leaked video and said there was nothing unusual about their meeting.

He said he has chaired nearly 200 such meetings since the May elections, that those meetings will continue and that they have no hidden agenda.

İmamoğlu is seen as one of the potential CHP leaders who can replace Kılıçdaroğlu, who was defeated to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a runoff presidential election held on May 28 as the joint candidate of an opposition alliance.

Leading figures within the CHP have been sending strong signals of an imminent and dramatic transformation within the party, including the potential for a shift in the leadership, since Kılıçdaroğlu’s defeat.

Erdoğan won 52.18 percent of the vote to Kılıçdaroğlu’s 47.82 percent despite an economic crisis and anger over the response to February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people.

İmamoğlu, the first person pushing for a major overhaul of the CHP following the election defeat, in late June criticized provincial CHP leaders for prioritizing the system over individuals in their approach to change in the party.

Earlier this month he launched a new website to collect comments from the public and suggestions for change in the CHP.

İmamoğlu ended the years-long Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in İstanbul when he defeated the AKP’s mayoral candidate twice in the local elections of 2019. He won a rerun election by a larger margin than the first, which had been canceled due to supposed irregularities.

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