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Turkish Transport Minister Yildirim in line to become AKP leader and prime minister

Turkey's ruling party, the AKP, has named a close ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the sole candidate to become prime minister. Binali Yildirim is Turkey's minister of transport and a founding member of the AKP.

Speaking moments after being confirmed as the sole candidate for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership on Thursday, Binali Yildirim pledged to continue the fight against the "terrorist menace" threatening Turkey.

"We will make every effort by working in full harmony, primarily with our founding chairman and leader, and then our colleagues within all ranks of our party, to fulfill the targets of our great Turkey," Yildirim said.

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Yildirim pledges to continue fight against "terrorist menance"

Sexism row

Over the last two decades, Yildirim has played a key role in working to bring Turkey's transport sector up to scratch with a number of vast new projects including new roads, high-speed rail lines and, most notably, the first tunnel under the Bosphorus, which opened in 2013.

His time as transport minister was not spent without controversy, however. In 2005, Yildirim sparked allegations of sexism after his wife was spotted dining alone, while he sat at a nearby table with a group of men.

The presumptive prime minister also refused to attend the Western-orientated Bosphorus University in Istanbul, remarking that he was put off by male and female students mixing together on campus.

'One-man regime'

The transport minister's nomination on Thursday follows the resignation of Ahmet Davutoglu earlier in May. His decision to step down as leader of the AKP and prime minister followed a rift with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ahmet Davutoglu

Ahmet Davutoglu (right) resigned earlier in May following disagreements with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his plans to expand his presidential power

The 57-year-old Davutoglu was always considered to be a close and loyal confidant of Erdogan's, but tensions increased in recent weeks, as Davutoglu voiced opposition to his mentor's plans to introduce a new system that would expand the president's power. Erdogan's supporters accuse Davutoglu of attempting to undermine the president's authority.

ksb/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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