Turkey's Erdogan prepares to regain leadership of party he founded

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) held its third extraordinary congress in Ankara Sunday with major turnout and excitement among both public and party members, while deputies pointed to the start of a new era with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's re-joining the party.

Such sweeping political changes, Mr Erdogan says, are vital to ensure stability in Turkey as it battles Kurdish and Islamist militants and after an attempted coup a year ago that Ankara attributed to supporters of United States-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Almost 1,500 delegates will vote to decide the new party leader, state-run news agency Anadolu reported, in an election where there is only one candidate: Erdogan.

Having left AKP for 998 days, Erdogan on May 3 rejoined the party he founded.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.

He became the first president to lead a party since 1950, taking back the AKP reins from Binali Yildirim, who remains prime minister until elections set for 2019. Last month's referendum eliminated a constitutional requirement mandating that presidents be neutral and cut ties with their political parties.

Erdogan led the party for three terms during his premiership between 2003 and 2014, helping build the AKP into an all-conquering election machine that has yet to be defeated at the ballot box. The complex's facilities included Turkish flags along with AK Party flags and various banners with slogans such as, "Together toward new goals", "Leader of change, the president of the people".

US envoy: Fight to retake Mosul in 'final stages'
Nevertheless, hundreds of civilians have been killed by coalition air raids and shelling, as well as in ISIL's counterattacks. The Iraqi armed troops have been involved in the offensive aimed at liberation of Mosul since October 2016.

Erdogan said that Turkey and the Turkish nation can no longer tolerate any more FETO attempts at treason, also warning, "If the fight [against FETO] can't be waged as powerfully as needed, our country will face much graver danger". Leaders of the main pro-Kurdish party, whose boost in support was instrumental in stripping the Justice and Development Party of its ability to rule alone after that election, were later jailed on terrorism charges.

Erdogan defended the state of emergency and said it would remain in place "until the situation reaches peace and welfare".

Tens of thousands of supporters of the conservative-Islamic party gathered for the congress, with giant screens placed outside the venue for those who could not enter.

Erdemir told AFP: "This new prerogative will allow him to design both a party apparatus and a parliamentary group composed entirely of loyalists".

"By the end of this year, all our institutions will have a serious renewal", Erdogan said in his speech.

Turkish police on Sunday meanwhile killed in Ankara two suspected members of the Islamic State jihadist group believed to have been planning an attack in the capital.

  • Stacy Houston