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.
Erdoğan have so far demanded the resignation of Bursa Municipality Mayor Recep Altepe, Balıkesir Municipality Mayor Ahmet Edip Uğur, Uşak Municipality Mayor Nurullah Şahan, Niğde Municipality Mayor Faruk Akdoğan and Nevşehir Municipality Mayor Hasan Ünver in addition to that of Ankara Municipality Mayor Melih Gökçek.
Uğur, Gökçek, Altepe, Ünver and Akdoğan have already resigned as well as the former mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbaş and former mayor of Düzce, Mehmet Keleş.
Ankara’s Gökçek 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.”
Here's my resignation speech ?https://t.co/75kUKtEAfd
— İbrahim Melih Gökçek (@melihgokcekENG) October 29, 2017
Ankara Municipal Council will have a meeting today at 14.00… I'll first bid farewell to my friends then submit my resignation…
— İbrahim Melih Gökçek (@melihgokcekENG) October 27, 2017
Last Friday, İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş also 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 cannot 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.
On Monday, Balıkesir’s Uğur resigned in tears under mounting pressure exerted by Erdoğan, saying that the pressure and threats were now extending to his family.
”We are waiting for the mayor of Balıkesir to resign on Monday. If he doesn’t, we will do what is required. Everyone will see what we will do,” said President Erdoğan on Sunday.
“I can say in my name: No corruption, no irregularities, no failure, no link to FETO [a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to refer to the Gülen movement], but there is pressure and interference to the extent of threats to my family and home. This has gone beyond the point of endurance,” said Uğur during a press conference.
“There is no possibility for me to continue politics in the AKP,” added Uğur.
“I am sad and offended but at peace.”
Uğur concluded his statement in tears.