AKP to hold extraordinary congress to restore Erdogan to party leadership – reports

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Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will hold an extraordinary congress aimed at choosing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the party’s leader on May 21, Turkish media reported.

This is the first of 18 amendments unlocked by a recent referendum, and drops the requirement that the President of the Turkish Republic be impartial. Mr Erdogan helped found the party, and led it through three terms as Prime Minister, before running for the presidency after hitting AKP’s internal term limits.

The referendum creates an executive president to be phased in after national elections in 2019. In the interim, Mr Erdogan’s leadership of the AKP, which has a majority in parliament, will give him control over both the legislature and the presidency, effectively handing him influence he was theoretically denied previously. European allies and Mr Erdogan’s domestic opposition have decried the amendment as one that dilutes the power of the legislature to hold Mr Erdogan accountable.

The decision reverses an announcement from Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who had said last week that there would be no rush to an extraordinary congress.

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