Former president Gül breaks silence on 'saddening' local elections

Abdullah Gül, a founding member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the president before Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assumed the office, has spoken of his concerns over events since the March 31 local elections.

“The point it has come to is truly saddening. When we are powerful, we should not repeat against others the wrongs that were done to us in the past,” Gül told Ayşe Baykal, a journalist at Turkish news site OdaTV.

The AKP has followed an aggressive policy since sustaining significant defeats in major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, in the elections last month.

The ruling party has challenged results in Istanbul, where it has alleged serious electoral fraud took place and lodged a request for a re-run with the Supreme Election Council.

Meanwhile, many successful candidates from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are yet to receive their certificates of election, and some have been barred from assuming office.

Gül has been frequently cited as a possible challenger to Erdoğan since his second term as president ended in 2014, after which Erdoğan was elected to the role.

The former president has remained largely silent since then, despite frequent rumours of a new party to be founded by Gül and disillusioned AKP figures.

This week, journalist Serdar Akinan claimed in a tweet that Gül would join a new party to be led by Ali Babacan, a former AKP deputy prime minister.