The mayors of Turkey’s major provinces, including capital Ankara and İstanbul, are resigning, apparently succumbing to weeks of pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Melih Gökçek, the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality mayor, announced his resignation on Saturday, saying his decision came after an order from the Turkish President .
“Not for being unsuccessful, tired or any other concerns, I only indulge the demand of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who I believe will make my country a leading country,” Gökçek said, underlining that he had rejected suggestions by some to refuse to leave the post.
The 69-year-old Gökçek who has led Ankara since 1994, is the fifth elected mayor from Erdogan’s party to leave office under pressure from the president.
“In accordance with the order of our leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, I am leaving the mayoral post. I resign from the duty that I have done for 23 years without hesitation.”
On Friday, İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş announced that he had resigned as mayor but would continue in politics with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
At a press conference on Friday Topbaş said: “I am not leaving my party. The opposition can not benefit from it. A person can forgive anything but not being treated like dirt.”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş tweeted early on Friday that Topbaş decided to resign after the İstanbul City Council approved zoning in İstanbul despite his objections. The zoning changes were passed by the council in a unanimous vote since AKP members also voted in favor.