Middle East

Former Turkish PM Davutoglu forms new party in challenge to Erdogan

ANKARA (Reuters) – Former Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, once a close ally to President Tayyip Erdogan, applied on Thursday to establish a breakaway political party which could erode support for Erdogan and his ruling AK Party.

Davutoglu, 60, served as prime minister from 2014 to 2016, before falling out with Erdogan. Earlier this year, he slammed the president and the AK Party’s (AKP) economic management, and accused them of curbing basic liberties and free speech.

A source close to Davutoglu said the former premier applied to the Interior Ministry on Thursday to form his new party and that he will formally announce it at a news conference in Ankara on Friday. It will be called Future Party, the source said.

“He will announce his party’s principles and give information about the founding members,” the source said. “The new party will breathe new life into politics”.

Davutoglu announced his resignation from the Islamist-rooted AKP in September, saying it was no longer able to solve Turkey’s problems and no longer allowed internal debate. His resignation came two months after former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan resigned from the AKP, citing “deep differences”.

Earlier this year Turkey’s main opposition party handed stinging defeats to Erdogan’s AK Party in mayoral elections, taking control of the capital Ankara and Istanbul, the country’s commercial hub, after more than two decades.

Babacan, will also announce his own rival political party within weeks, a source close to Babacan said.

“Efforts to form the party are in the last stages. The final changes are being made to the texts, the party’s founders are nearly complete,” the source said.

In his first televised interview since resigning from the AKP, Babacan said last month that Turkey was in a “dark tunnel” and warned of the dangers of “one-man rule”.

Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans

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