More AKP leaders on verge of exit amid criticism of presidential system

Turkey's former foreign minister and prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has laid down four conditions that will make him reconsider resigning from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Independent Turkish chief editor Nevzat Çicek said on Thursday.

Rumours that senior party members are preparing to part ways with the AKP have emerged after the party presided over serious economic problems and faced stunning defeats in the local elections this year. Many are reportedly dissatisfied with the new executive presidential system, which places unparalleled power in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, resigned from the AKP on Monday, citing differences over key policies, the latest sign of rifts within the ruling party.

Babacan’s resignation comes amid reports of growing discontent with Erdoğan within his own party.

Davutoğlu, who was ousted from his position at an extraordinary party congress in May 2016, has emerged as a rival to Erdoğan after reports suggested that he had been working to launch a new political party.

The former prime minister complained about Erdoğan's double political role as the president and the AKP leader, the ruling party’s alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the new presidential system, and the appointment of family members to major political posts, according to Çiçek.

Davutoğlu is ready to sever all ties with the AKP unless the party makes changes on all of these issues, the chief editor said.

In addition to Davutoğlu and Babacan, former President Abdullah Gül is also among the AKP heavyweights who have been speculated to resign and form a new centrist party.

Gül has been increasingly vocal in his criticism of Erdoğan, who gained sweeping executive powers with a presidential system that was inaugurated last year.

According to BBC Turkish, Gül decided to give support to the formation of a new party following the implementation of the presidential system in Turkey.

"We are people who served the state for years, we couldn't remain silent regarding the state of democracy, freedoms, human rights and the economy," BBC Türkçe quoted Gül as saying.