Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stormed out of an event celebrating the creation of Turkey’s highest administrative court in Ankara on Saturday, during a speech critical of his government by a senior lawyer.
The Turkish prime minister interrupted a speech by the head of the Turkish Bar Association, Metin Feyzioğlu, after he criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) approach to civil liberties, and its handling of the earthquake in the province of Van in 2011.
Erdoğan, who appeared to grow increasingly angry during Feyzioğlu’s speech, walked out of the event, which was broadcast live on television, after Feyzioğlu had been speaking for almost an hour.
As he left, he told Feyzioğlu: “You are shameless and impolite; this is a political speech and is full of lies.”
The event commemorating the 146th anniversary of the creation of Turkey’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, was also attended by Turkish president Abdullah Gül, who appeared shocked by developments.
As Erdoğan left, he was accompanied by President Gül and a large section of the audience.
A source close to Erdoğan told Asharq Al-Awsat that Feyzioğlu had exceeded his allotted time, and that Erdoğan had been scheduled to leave the ceremony in any case for a meeting of senior members of the AKP.
The source added that the meeting was the final consultation of AKP leaders before Erdoğan makes his final decision regarding running for the presidency.
After the meeting, Erdoğan said that his party would announce its presidential candidate by mid-June.
According to the source, Erdoğan will hold a meeting with incumbent President Abdullah Gül to discuss his candidacy, adding that he expected him to make his decision following the discussions with Gül.
He added that Gül would not compete with Erdoğan if he decided to run as they are “friends and companions.” He expected Erdoğan to run for the presidency and that Gül would take a break from politics because he does not want to lead both the government and the party, a decision supported by Erdoğan.