Challenger emerges for Turkey’s main opposition leadership

Former Istanbul Bar Association President Ümit Kocasakal announced his candidacy for the role of leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) at a press conference on Wednesday, Hürriyet said.

In a hall decked out with Turkish flags and posters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secularist founder of modern Turkey, Kocasakal called for the party to “return to its factory settings”.

“A CHP that returns to its essence, to its identity, to its founding values, to its factory settings,” he said.

“From now on I will use this slogan: ‘Liberation is in the founding’.”

Kocasakal said he was a soldier of Atatürk and that meant he walking the same path of anti-imperialism and embracing all citizens regardless of their identity.

“I am making this statement in the name of the millions of my fellow citizens who are unhappy, hopeless and worried because of what is happening. This is a revolt of conscience!”

Those in Atatürk’s party, the CHP, Kocasakal said, should not be complimenting the Kurdish-movement Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Islamists such as Sait Nursi or rebels against the state such as Seyid Riza – a likely dig at the party’s new Istanbul chair, Canan Kaftancıoğlu, who has been criticised for her willingness to work with the HDP.

The party should also take a stronger stance against imperialism, he said.

“The CHP is not globalist, it is nationalist.”