Former Turkish PM Davutoglu sharply criticizes Erdogan’s AK Party

In his first major public challenge to Erdogan since leaving office three years ago, Ahmet Davutoglu, an AKP member, slammed the party’s economic policies. (AP)
Updated 22 April 2019

Former Turkish PM Davutoglu sharply criticizes Erdogan’s AK Party

  • Former PM attacks economic policies, erosion of institutions
  • Davutoglu calls for reform within party

ANKARA: A former prime minister and close ally of President Tayyip Erdogan strongly criticized the ruling AK Party on Monday, blaming policy changes and an alliance with nationalists for its poor performance in Turkey’s local elections last month.
In his first major public challenge to Erdogan since leaving office three years ago, Ahmet Davutoglu, an AKP member, slammed the party’s economic policies, media restrictions and the damage he said it had done to the separation of powers and to Turkey’s institutions.
Davutoglu, a high profile figure in the party, served as prime minister between 2014 and 2016 before falling out with Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey with his AKP for 16 years.
In a serious blow to Erdogan, the AKP lost control of the capital Ankara and Turkey’s largest city Istanbul in the March 31 elections. The AKP and its Islamist predecessors had governed the two cities for 25 years.
“The election results show that alliance politics have caused harm to our party, both in terms of voter levels and the party’s identity,” Davutoglu said in a 15-page statement.
The AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) formed an alliance before presidential and parliamentary elections in June last year in which Erdogan won the executive presidency but saw the level of support for his party fall.

“Scaring global investors”
There were no signs of a lira reaction to Davutoglu’s statement. The currency had weakened in early trade and stood at 5.8350 against the dollar, from a close of 5.8170 on Friday.
Davutoglu said the party’s reformist, liberal ethos had been replaced in recent years by a more statist, security-based approach that was driven by concerns about preserving the status quo.
He also said recent economic policy decisions showed a move away from free market principles and that “scaring global investors necessary to the development of the country is a dead-end.”
The Turkish economy slipped into recession in the last quarter of 2018 after a currency crisis which has wiped 35 percent off the value of the lira since the start of last year.
“The main reason for the economic crisis is an administration crisis. Trust in the administration vanishes if economic policy decisions are far from reality,” Davutoglu said.
He also warned against cronyism in public administration and said that recruitment should be transparent and based on competence and qualifications, not on personal connections.
In recent years there has been repeated media speculation that prominent AKP politicians might break away to establish a new political party, but that has not happened and Davutoglu made no mention of such a prospect.
Instead, he stressed the need for reform within: “I call on our party’s executives and relevant bodies to assess all these subjects and our future vision sensibly and with cool heads.”


Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

Updated 06 June 2020

Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

  • New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths
  • Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing

DUBAI: A wedding party contributed to a new surge in coronavirus infections in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday but insisted the country had no option but to keep its economy open despite warnings of a second wave of the epidemic.
Iran, which has been gradually relaxing its lockdown since mid-April, has reported a sharp rise of new daily infections in recent days. Thursday’s toll of 3,574 new cases was the highest since February, when the outbreak was first reported.
“At one location, we witnessed a peak in this epidemic, the source of which was a wedding that caused problems for the people, health workers and losses to the economy and the country’s health system,” Rouhani said on state TV. He did not say when or where the wedding took place.
New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths.
Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing. One official said about 70% of the new cases in Tehran were among those who had traveled outside the capital in recent days.
Iran has been struggling to curb the spread of COVID-19 but authorities are concerned that measures to limit public and economic life to contain the virus could wreck an already economy already reeling under international sanctions.
“In these circumstances, we have no other choice — that is, there is no second option,” Rouhani added. “We have to work, our factories have to be active, our shops have to be open, and there has to be movement in the country as far as it is necessary.”
Iranian universities reopened on Saturday after being closed for more than three and a half months, state media reported. Nurseries will reopen in a week’s time, when Qur'an and languages classes will also resume, Rouhani said.