Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Thursday that he will step down from his position, after Islamist-leaning President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed him to do so over a falling out regarding the boosting of Erdogan’s powers.
An intense meeting on Wednesday failed to bridge gaps between the two over Erdogan’s drive to tighten his grip on power by changing the constitution in favor of a presidential system, which some warn would pave his way to a dictatorship.
Erdogan had expected that Davutoglu would bend to his will, but apparently the prime minister could not shake his reservations, which eventually led the president to press him into stepping down.
Davutoglu announced he will resign at an unusual congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to be held on May 22, but in his announcement he nevertheless pledged his loyalty to Erdogan.
The prime minister will remain a party legislator, while his replacement will be selected at the party congress.
“I feel no reproach, anger or resentment against anyone,” said Davutoglu. “No-one heard, or will ever hear, a single word from my mouth, from my tongue or my mind against our president.”
The last statement is somewhat ironic given that insulting the president is in fact a crime in Turkey, and one which the government has acted on countless times by fining or jailing those who say something unfavorable of Erdogan. Turkey has frequently been condemned for its dismal human rights and free speech record.
Now with Davutoglu out of the way, it would appear Erdogan’s path is clear to solidifying his control and putting in a more obedient prime minister – the leading candidates are Transport Minister Binali Yildirim, a close confidante of Erdogan, and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan’s son-in-law.
Davutoglu’s ouster was preceded by signs of his fall from favor, as just last week he had his authority to appoint provincial AKP officials removed from him.