“Raising the possibility of another showdown with secular factions, including the military.”
“Islamist again seeks Turkish presidency,” by Selcan Hacaoglu for the Associated Press:
ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s Islamic-oriented ruling party decided Monday to
renominate the religious-leaning foreign minister for president, raising the possibility of another showdown with secular factions, including the military.
When Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed Abdullah Gul as his party’s
candidate earlier this year, opposition groups accused Gul of wanting to scrap the secular traditions of this predominantly Muslim but officially secular nation.
Opposition lawmakers boycotted the previous presidential voting in parliament, leading Turkey’s top court to annul the balloting for lack of the required quorum and causing early elections that were won by Erdogan’s party last month.
The candidacy signals that Erdogan’s party apparently bowed to pressure from its grass-roots supporters to challenge secular circles.
Gul’s earlier nomination alarmed the military-backed, secular establishment, which accused the government of seeking a lock on power so it could impose Islamic ways unchecked.
Although the presidency is largely ceremonial, the post has the power to veto legislative bills and government appointments.
The current president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, has often frustrated Erdogan’s government by blocking its initiatives, such as vetoing a newly passed constitutional amendment in June that would have allowed the people — rather than legislators — to elect the president.
Erdogan’s party won a majority of parliament seats in the July 22 election, but it did not secure the two-thirds needed to approve a presidential candidate on its own during the first two rounds of voting.
“It is not appropriate to have a president who has problems with the founding philosophy of the Turkish Republic,” said Deniz Baykal, leader of the main opposition party, the pro-secular Republican People’s Party.
Onur Oymen, a senior member of the Republican People’s Party, said Gul’s candidacy is a serious threat to the secular principles of Turkey. “Gul’s candidacy is not expected to contribute to peace and stability in the country,” he told private NTV television.