Turkish president threatens mayors of major cities over resistance to resignation

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Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday threatened the mayors of three major cities who are resisting calls to resign as part of efforts to revitalize his ruling party ahead of the 2019 elections, Turkish media reported.

Speaking during a joint press conference with his Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, at the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan said whatever is necessary will be done if Ankara Mayor Melih Gokçek, Bursa Mayor Recep Altepe and Balıkesir Mayor Ahmet Edip Ugur fail to resign.

Regarding the three mayors’ alleged resistance to being forced to resign, Erdogan said: “What needs to be done will be done because the relevant councils have made their decision on the matter, “ the Bianet news website reported on Thursday. “As of now, three of our mayors have submitted their resignations. Now we have three more mayors. I believe they will also submit their resignations as soon as possible.”

Erdogan underlined his decision concerning the resignation of the mayors, saying: “The relevant people held meetings [with the mayors]. I believe they are at the moment in preparation for their resignations. I am reiterating that what needs to be done will be done because our councils have made their decision on the matter.”

Kanal D television reported that Erdogan has requested the resignation of Bursa Municipality Mayor Altepe, Balıkesir Municipality Mayor Ugur, Uşak Municipality Mayor Nurullah Şahan, Nigde Municipality Mayor Faruk Akdogan and Nevsehir Municipality Mayor Hasan Unver in addition to that of Ankara Municipality Mayor Gokcek.

Erdogan reportedly asked these mayors to resign before the AKP’s provincial party congresses to be held in February 2018.

İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbas had also announced his resignation on Sept. 22 after 13 years of service. His resignation had followed disputes in the municipal administration after Topbas rejected five previously agreed zoning amendments on the grounds that they would damage the image of the municipal council. The amendments were then approved once again without change with the votes of AKP council members.

Duzce Mayor Mehmet Keles was also obliged by Erdogan and the AKP to resign on Monday.

According to Voice of America (VOA) Gokcek, who has been Ankara mayor since 1994 and won five consecutive elections, has so far stayed in place, despite widespread speculation that he would step down.

Gokcek has avoided addressing the resignation issue and pointedly steered clear of the subject in public when he made an unexpected visit to the presidential palace this month.

“I presented to my president all the project details of the museum to be built opposite the [presidential] palace. I also provided information about ongoing municipal projects. … For the public’s information,” he wrote on Twitter.

Gokçek, generally regarded as a staunch Erdogan loyalist, is well known in Turkey for tweets in which he has engaged in spats with journalists and other senior members of the AKP.

In February he suggested that US-based Sufi cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed for last year’s failed coup, might be plotting an earthquake, with the help of foreign powers, to damage the economy.

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