Turkey's ruling party is set to hold an extraordinary congress to decide the fate of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The past few weeks have seen increasing speculation and tension between Davutoglu and the president.
Sources close to the ruling AKP confirmed Wednesday that the party would hold a congress later this month to chose the new party head, a post which is currently held by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (above, at right).
The prime minister held talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, which the local media described as crucial for the premier's future.
"The president and prime minister reached agreement on the congress … I don't think Davutoglu will be a candidate again," one of the AKP officials told the Reuters news agency.
There are reports of an increasing rift between the president and prime minister over key policy areas. Analysts say Erdogan wants to replace the current parliamentary system with an executive presidency, a plan which has received little support from Davutoglu.
Erdogan's presidential palace in Ankara has not commented on the issue. The premier is expected to hold a pres conference on Thursday following an executive meeting of the party, according to the official Anadolu Agency.
"Davutoglu's likely early exit as party leader and PM constitutes another episode that show that Erdogan's dominance over the AKP and the executive is absolute and unchallenged," said Wolfango Piccoli, head of research at Teneo Intelligence.
"In the short term policy paralysis will prevail and then, once a new party leader is elected, a more incisive effort to amend the constitution could ensue," he told Reuters.
Critics accuse Erdogan of authoritarianism and say he is tightening his grip on power. They say the president, who took office in August 2014, wants to appoint a prime minister who would not disagree with him on crucial issues such as the migrant deal with the European Union, the ongoing battle against the militant "Islamic State" group in Syria and the Kurdish insurgency.
According to Turkish "Hurriyet" columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, the AKP leadership does not intend to re-nominate Davutoglu as party chief at the forthcoming congress.
AKP statutes dictate that the posts of party chairman and head of government are always held by the same person.
Turkish media has reported that Transport Minister Binali Yildirim and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak - also Erdogan's son-in-law - could succeed Davutoglu as prime minister.
shs/cmk (AFP, Reuters)