Former PM Davutoğlu, deputies resign from Turkey's ruling party

Turkey’s former Prime Minister and former chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ahmet Davutoğlu, together with several colleagues, announced on Friday his resignation from the party via an online press statement shared by his social media account.

The resignation came after the AKP's Executive Board last week unanimously decided to expel Davutoğlu and his three colleagues, who were reportedly acting together to launch a breakaway party.

Ayhan Sefer Üstün, former head of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission, Abdullah Başçı former Istanbul deputy, and Selçuk Özdağ, former deputy chairman also resigned from the AKP together with Davutoğlu.

“For us, Sept. 2, 2019, the date when the expulsion from the party demand was made, is the date that the AKP announced its renunciation of the founding principles,” Davutoğlu said. The former prime minister said he felt a sense of great sadness and shame when he received the notification that they had been referred to the party’s Board of Discipline for expulsion.

The politician said the AKP had now been controlled by a narrow cadre, had drifted away from its founding principles and had closed all channels for self-reflection, consultation, and joint decision making, adding that there was no more any possibility of triggering a change inside the party.

“In this context, in order to save the AKP’s loyal base from the despair of seeing the expulsion of their former chairman, with him they fought side by side in two elections and experienced the honour of receiving the highest percentage of votes in party’s history, we are resigning from our party which we for years offered our efforts, opinions, and energy,” Davutoğlu said.

The politician said to start a new path based on their principles was a historical responsibility for him and his colleagues.

Following Davutoğlu's resignation, former Gümüşhane deputy Feramuz Üstün, former Izmir deputy Ibrahim Turhan and former Konya deputy Ömer Ünal also resigned from the AKP citing the divergence from the party's founding principles, secular opposition daily Cumhuriyet reported.

"We expect nearly 100 former deputies to resign in the next month. There will be former ministers among them," one of the resigned AKP politicians anonymously told Gazete Duvar.

The AKP has not released any official statements about the resignations. But the party's Isparta deputy Recep Özel said the resignations would be limited and described them as the ones who "diverted from the road map that people draw".

The resignations of Davutoğlu and his close circle followed a similar move of the former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who resigned from the AKP in July and is heading a different initiative that aims to establish a more liberal party.