Erdoğan ally calls on leader of breakaway opposition party to 'return home '

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of Turkey’s junior ruling coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has called on breakaway opposition Good Party leader Meral Akşener to return “home’’ to the MHP.

Bahçeli lauded Akşener for her visit to the newly reconverted Hagia Sophia as a positive move and sign of her dissociation from the opposition Nation’s Alliance, T24 news site reported on Tuesday.

“With her last move, the Good Party chair separated from them,’’ Bahçeli said, referring to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). “It is a good development,” 

“It would be correct and consistent for Mrs. Akşener to see that it will not go on like this and that there won’t be such an alliance,” he said. “ It would be right and logical for her to return home.’’

The opposition Nation Alliance is made up of the secularist CHP and nationalist Good Party. The pro-Kurdish HDP is an informal member of the alliance.

Both the CHP and HDP have voiced their opposition to Turkey’s conversion last month of Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque, a long-standing demand of the country’s Islamists.

Originally built as a Byzantine cathedral in 537, the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul on May 29, 1453, and then became a museum in 1935 under the presidency of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Former MHP members disgruntled with Bahçeli’s alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan split from their party in 2016 and formed the centre-right nationalist Good Party a year later under leadership of Akşener.