Turkey's Ruling Party Renominates Islamist for Presidency Despite Strong Secular Opposition

August 13, 2007

Author: Selcan Hacaoglu

Source: Union Tribune

Wire Service: AP


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.

Murat Mercan, a senior party official, confirmed Gul's renewed presidential candidacy after a party meeting Monday.

“Gul is a statesman who has great experience,” Mercan told private CNN-Turk television. “I believe he would be very successful.”

The candidacy signals that Erdogan's party apparently bowed to pressure from its grass-roots supporters to challenge secular circles.