Turkey’s Erdoğan slams former president over criticism

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has criticised his predecessor in the office, Abdullah Gül, for calling a clause in a recent state of emergency decree “ambiguous” and worrying about its consequences, the Hürriyet newspaper said.

“It is sad to see our former president unfortunately getting up and talking about ambiguity,” Erdoğan said. “What basis do you have for talking about ambiguity like that?”

“The ambiguity inconsistent with legal language in the writing of decree numbered 696 … is worrying from the perspective of the rule of law,” Gül tweeted.

“I hope that it will be reviewed in order not to provide the opportunity for events and developments that would sadden us all in the future,” said Gül, who was president from 2007 and stepped down after two terms in office in 2014.

Many people, including the head of the Turkish Bar Association, have said that clause 121 of emergency decree 696 will effectively legalise vigilantism against those deemed to be terrorists.

However, governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Mahir Ünal later said the clause was clearly limited its scope to the days of July 15 and 16, 2016, the dates of last year’s failed coup

“Both our justice minister and our government spokesman have given the necessary responses (to the claim),” Erdoğan said.

“As I have said, this is something only limited to July 15. There is no question of it referring to anything else.”

However, ambiguous laws legally have to be interpreted in courts according to their wording rather than government statements of their intent.

Erdoğan has generally avoided criticising Gül in the past, likely out of respect for his role as a fellow party founder, colleague and former president. There has long been speculation, however, that the pair fell out in December 2013 when Gül recommended that Erdoğan’s son give a statement to police over corruption accusations.


Clause 37 (1) of law 6755 was edited by clause 121 of decree 696 to read as follows:

No legal, administrative, financial or punitive responsibilities may arise as the result of their decisions, duties and actions for those people who took decisions in the context of actions to suppress the 15/7/2016 coup attempt and terrorist actions or actions with the property of being their continuation, who fulfilled these decisions or precautions and who took on duties in the context of any kind of legal or administrative measures, or those people who took decisions and took on duties in the context of decrees with the force of law published during the period of the state of emergency.​​​​​​​