Davutoglu stepping down as Turkish PM, AKP to hold snap congress
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has announced his decision to leave the chairmanship of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) at an extraordinary convention on May 22, underlining that the real reason behind his departure was not his failure as premier but differences with his colleagues over principles.
“My term [as prime minister] was one of success. With this decision, there is no feeling of unsuccessfulness or regret over what I have done. I did my job properly and with honor,” Davutoğlu said at a press conference after the AKP’s central-decision making body decided to hold an extraordinary convention on May 22.
“The fact that my term lasted far shorter than four years is not a decision of mine but a necessity,” he said, hinting at recently surfaced in-house tension with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the main reason for his sudden departure. But Davutoğlu vowed that he would not permit AKP opponents to weaken the government, instead calling on all his colleagues to stand united. “Our party is on the verge of a new era. This is the time of unity.”
Davutoğlu’s farewell-like statement was full of emotion and a long summary of his 20 months as prime minister, as well as hints about the reason for his resignation despite his self-described success.
Davutoğlu was careful in his remarks about the role of Erdoğan in his resignation but blamed some of his party colleagues without naming them.
“I am of the opinion that a change in the party chairmanship would be much better than reshuffling the MYK [Central Decision-Making Body] of the AKP. That move would create more tension inside the party,” he said.
Davutoğlu explained that an in-house move that had removed his authority to appoint AKP provincial and district heads was the turning point in his decision to step aside, noting that he had been upset by the way the move was made.
“I would not think to continue as the chairman in the absence of consensus,” he said, adding he was not planning to run for the party leadership at the convention.
“I put my heart and soul into my job. Our people is the witness,” he said.
Reasons for decision
It was right for many to question his decision to leave the chairmanship despite the fact that he was a successful prime minister who fulfilled all his pre-election promises on time, Davutoğlu said. “Especially after six months of the elections in which our party received 49.5 percent of the votes and the support of 24 million voters. Why is the AKP’s leader leaving while all three opposition leaders who lost the elections are still there?” he added.
“Well, why have I taken such a decision? Life teaches many things, but I have my principles that I have never left since my academic days,” Davutoğlu said.
The first is the fact that he never demanded any position from anybody, recalling that he was not the one who demanded to become prime minister or, previously, foreign minister. “The strongest person in life is the one who can be at peace with himself,” the prime minister said. “In life, I have never defended anything I have not believed and I have never taken a step back on issues I have believed in. I have never negotiated for any post or position over the values and principles I have.”
He also said a person’s friends on the road were sometimes more important than the road itself. “Therefore if friends are important and the objective is important, then we should all examine ourselves. As a result of my own examination and consultations with my friends with political experience, including our president, I have come to the conclusion that instead of changing colleagues, it’s much better to change the party chair for the unity of the AK Party.”
The AKP should hold the convention in full unity and solidarity “because the fate of the AK Party is the fate of Turkey,” he said.
My friendship with Erdoğan is eternal
Davutoğlu said he would continue to serve for the AKP as an ordinary MP and stressed that he would never become involved in any effort to undermine the unity of the party and he would never permit any plots against Erdoğan.
“Whatever will happen, I will continue my relation with our president … until my last breath. The honor of our president is my honor. His family is my family. No one should dare to initiate new plots,” he said.
Erdoğan handed the leadership of the AKP to Davutoğlu on Aug. 28, 2014, asking him not to be a “trustee prime minister.”
“I followed this during my prime ministry,” Davutoğlu said.