Erdoğan says only death ends loyalty to his political movement

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said officials of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are loyalists until death, whether they have left the movement or not.

Erdoğan made the comments in a letter to former district chairs of the AKP thanking them for their service, the Daily Sabah newspaper reported on Tuesday. The letter was sent after two of Erdoğan’s former allies announced the formation of new political movements to challenge the AKP.

“There is no new or old within the AK Party, there are only changes in jobs,” Erdoğan said. “Every AK Party member is a member of this sacred cause until death.

“We have lots of roads to walk and lots of missions to take this matchless country and our saintly nation to the point where they belong,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and ex-Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan have announced plans to establish rival political movements in Turkey, raising speculation that previous or present members of the AKP could also defect. Davutoğlu officially formed his Future Party in December, while Babacan continues preparations to establish his own political group.

Erdoğan formed the AKP in 2001. The party has held power since winning general elections in late 2002. Erdoğan has since tightened his political grip over the AKP, particularly since he took on executive presidential powers in 2018.

Both Davutoğlu and Babacan have said they will focus on the grass-root development of their political movements, raising speculation that former local AKP officials will be approached to join.

“We, all together, serve a cause that has become a glimmer of hope for all the oppressed in our country and the whole world,” Erdoğan said.