Former ruling party confirms ex-president visit

Turkey’s former ruling Motherland Party (ANAP) confirmed it had met with former president Abdullah Gül, in the midst of media speculation that the former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is preparing to stand against him in presidential elections due in 2019.

However, the party said, “in these discussions, neither the topic of participation, nor alliance, nor cooperation came onto the agenda.”

“Our meeting with the 11th president, Abdullah Gül, was an exchange of views on the country’s problems and benefitting from his knowledge and experience,” ANAP, a conservative party, said in a statement. “In this sense, a fantastically productive meeting took place.”

Media speculation over the possibility of Gül standing for the presidency began after the former president criticised a decree with the force of law issued on Dec. 24, 2017 that appeared to give immunity to vigilantes.

On Wednesday, Mustafa Elitaş, a parliamentarian for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), joined the government response to Gül’s words.

“Sadly, our friends now only inform us via television and social media,” he told reporters in the central city of Kayseri, both his and Gül’s hometown, the centrist Hürriyet daily said.

“If you’re a member of a family, you do not talk about a matter inside the family regarding the family in public,” he said.

ANAP politicians held the Turkish prime ministry from 1983–91, for a short time in 1995, and again from 1997–98, but the party has not competed in any recent elections.