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Calls grow stronger on PM to resign on road to presidential palace.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Calls on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an, who is the governing Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) presidential candidate, to resign from his post during his election campaign have grown stronger, with the main opposition party applying to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to urge the prime minister to leave his post.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) applied to the YSK on Thursday evening in a bid to force the prime minister to quit his post during his presidential election campaign. The AK Party announced the prime minister as its candidate for the post of president earlier this week.

CHP deputy Mahmut Tanal, who presented his party's petition to the YSK, spoke to reporters and said the prime minister should resign in order "not to put any stain" on the presidential race and allow all candidates to compete under equal and fair conditions. He also noted that Article 76 of the Constitution and YSK circular numbered 2923 state that all public servants must resign from their posts if they wish to run in elections. According to Tanal, the prime minister, whom he described as a public servant, must resign in accordance with the Constitution and YSK circular.

However, Prime Minister Erdoy-an has stated on various occasions that he is not a public servant.

Tanal also said the CHP, in its petition, asked the YSK to order the prime minister to quit his post if he wishes to run as a presidential candidate. No immediate comment has come from the election board. "If the YSK rejects our appeal, we will carry this issue [resignation of the prime minister] to the Constitutional Court and, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR]," the deputy added.

Since Erdoy-an's nomination as a presidential candidate on July 1, a fierce debate over whether the prime minister should resign or not has been dominating the political agenda. While the opposition parties argue that Erdoy-an should step down, the AK Party says the prime minister need not resign during his presidential election campaign.

During a press conference on Wednesday evening, AK Party deputy chairman and spokesman HE-seyin Ecelik said Prime Minister Erdoy-an will not resign from his post as he competes for the presidency. "Do prime ministers [normally] resign while running for election? No. Are there any other examples of this in the world? No. ... The prime minister will comply with what should or should not be done when election prohibitions are determined. However, we don't have the right to push the prime minister to do something that is not ordered by law. The prime minister will not resign," Ecelik stated.

In addition, Ecelik wrote on Twitter on Friday that calls on the prime minister to resign during his election campaign are efforts by the opposition parties to "find an excuse for their [potential] disappointment" in the August election. He also said many mayors and prime ministers did not resign from their positions when they ran in elections in the past.

According to the Law on Presidential Elections, passed by Parliament and put into effect in January 2012, the prime minister can be nominated for the presidency without having to resign from his post.

The law, however, states that judges, prosecutors and other members of the higher judiciary, academics at universities, members of the Supreme Education Board (YSK) and the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTE[pounds sterling]K), civil servants working for state institutions, mayors, officers and noncommissioned officers, heads and members of provincial and district councils of political parties, members of municipal city councils and administrators and employees at state banks have to resign from their posts once they become presidential candidates.

Turkey will elect a president by popular vote for the first time in this summer's presidential election. Parliament chose presidents in the past. If a candidate receives more than half of the votes in the first election, which will be held on Aug. 10, that candidate will become president. If no candidate manages to obtain more than 50 percent of the vote, then the two candidates with the most votes will compete in a run-off election. The candidate who receives the most votes in the run-off will be elected president and serve a five-year term.

On Aug. 10, Prime Minister Erdoy-an will compete against former Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin yhsanoy-lu, who will run for the opposition CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and Kurdish lawmaker and politician Selahattin DemirtaE-, who will run for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

Resignation an ethical option

In late November of last year, the YSK announced that ministers who occupy a post in the government need not resign to be eligible to compete in local elections.

The announcement was targeting then-Ministers Sadullah Ergin, Binali Yyldyrym and Fatma E[currency]ahin, who ran in the March 30 local elections. After the announcement, Prime Minister Erdoy-an said it was not a legal requirement for the ministers to resign but it would be "ethical" for them to do so if they wish to run in the local polls. Subsequently, the three ministers resigned.

Now legal experts and opposition parties are questioning if the prime minister will apply the same "principle of ethics" to himself, too.

Former Justice Minister Oltan Sungurlu told Today's Zaman that the debate over whether the prime minister should resign during his presidential election campaign or not stems from a gap in the law. "For me, all candidates running in elections should quit their posts. This has been the case up until now. All candidates from public servants to bureaucrats have left their posts after they announced their candidacy in elections. We witnessed an example of this principle in the March 30 elections," he said, referring to Ergin, Yyldyrym and E[currency]ahin.

Sungurlu said the YSK should make a speedy evaluation of the issue and end debates surrounding the prime minister's candidacy for presidency.

According to CHP Deputy Chairman Haluk Koc, the prime minister does not think that he should resign while running for president, whereas he asked ministers to resign when they ran for mayors. "When the matter is his personal interests, the prime minister ignores ethics and principles. He has no principles at all," Koc said, criticizing the prime minister. Koc also said the prime minister will use state resources and his influence over people as a prime minister during his election campaign unless he resigns, and in such a case, the presidential race will be neither ethnical nor fair.

MHP Deputy Chairwoman Ruhsar Demirel agrees the prime minister should resign for an equal and fair competition of presidential candidates. However, she is not hopeful that Erdoy-an will give up his seat during the presidential campaign. "Turning a deaf ear to the people's call for a fair competition under equal conditions is indeed a signal that he will display a despotic stance, too, if he gets elected to the Ecankaya presidential palace," she noted.

Demirel also said it is contradictory for the prime minister to both ask the ministers who ran as mayors to resign but not do the same when he runs for president. "The prime minister wants to move on to the highest position in the country [office of the president] through unethical means. This is a strong signal that he will not respect the most fundamental principles of democracy if he achieves his dream," she added.

Celal Adan, deputy chairman of the MHP, said the prime minister should quit his seat on his adventure to the presidency if he possesses any "shred of political morals."

The Turkish presidency is a largely symbolic post, and Erdoy-an has said he favors a system that gives the president more power. He failed to muster sufficient support to make constitutional changes for an all-powerful president, but has suggested that, if elected, he would make full use of latent presidential authority, including the right to call Cabinet meetings, so that he can rule Turkey with as much authority as he has enjoyed as prime minister.

The CHP and the MHP are vehemently opposed to the prime minister running for president. They strongly criticize Erdoy-an for his dismissive discourse toward those who do not vote for the AK Party. They also believe that Erdoy-an will not be a suitable president due to graft allegations leveled at him following a major police operation that was made public on Dec. 17 of last year.

Grand Unity Party (BBP) Chairman Mustafa Destici said it would be ethical for Prime Minister Erdoy-an to resign during his presidential campaign. "It is a must for all public servants to resign if they wish to run for deputy or president. But prime ministers, ministers and deputies are exempt from this requirement. This is unfair," he added.

Ali Aslan Kylyc (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Jul 4, 2014
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