Ankara – After recently winning over sweeping powers by a referendum’s yes vote, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected to head the nation’s ruling party.
Erdogan has just returned to rule the Justice and Development Party (AKP) after 998 days of running foreign and internal issues, and spearheading efforts to counter the Gulen movement, which Turkey designated as a terror organization. Turkey has been overwhelmed with the continued state of emergency declared after the attempted coup in mid-July 2016.
With a two-hour speech at the third extraordinary general AKP conference—at which a single candidate for party leadership was put forward in early implementation of the constitutional amendments voted by the April 16 referendum– Erdogan reviewed the party’s history over the past decade and its achievements in fields of economy, health, education, services and various state facilities.
“We are together again after three years,” Erdogan said in his candidate speech. “Our hearts were not divided… we lived as one heart.”
In a thank you speech, Erdogan vowed the congress would mark a “new start” for Turkey.
“In the next few months, from the fight against terror to the economy, from expanding rights and freedoms to investments, in every field, this new period will be a leap for Turkey.”
In a thinly-veiled promise to see the end of the Gulen movement, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Erdogan told thousands of cheering supporters in the Ankara sports arena that “rather than facing our people with our heads down tomorrow, we prefer to stand tall today against the scum at home and abroad.”
Responding to internal and external criticism calling to end Turkey’s state of emergency announced upon the backdrop of the failed coup attempt, Erdogan said drew comparisons with Europe’s France.
“In France, they declared a state of emergency for a year because of the killing of 15 people. We suffered the loss of 249 martyrs, as well as the wounding 2,193 of our citizens in the abortive coup attempt, how could we be asked to abolish the state of emergency? We will uphold maximum security until things return to normal. ”
Erdogan became the first president to lead a party since 1950, taking back the AKP reins from Binali Yildirim, who remains prime minister until elections set for 2019.