New Turkish PM Supports Constitution To Strengthen Erdogan

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Turkey New PM
Turkey's Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim, accompanied by his wife Semiha Yildirim, greets members of his party as he arrives for the Extraordinary Congress of the ruling AK Party (AKP) to choose the new leader of the party, in Ankara, Turkey May 22, 2016. Pix: Reuters
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TURKEY’s incoming prime minister said on Sunday his top priority was to deliver a new constitution to create an executive presidency, giving President Tayyip Erdogan the broad powers he has long sought.

As delegates from the ruling AK Party unanimously elected Transport Minister Binali Yildirim as their new party leader, and therefore the next premier, Yildirim left no doubt that he would prioritize the policies closest to Erdogan’s heart.

An ally of Erdogan for two decades, the 60-year-old was the sole candidate at the special congress, called after Ahmet Davutoglu said he would step down this month, following weeks of public tension with Erdogan.

Yildirim said in a speech a new constitution was necessary to legitimize the existing situation, in what appeared to be a tacit acknowledgment that Erdogan has been gone beyond the presidency’s traditionally ceremonial role.

“The most important mission we have today is to legalize the de facto situation, to bring to an end this confusion by changing the constitution,” he said. “The new constitution will be on an executive presidential system.”

A total of 1,411 delegates voted, with 1,405 of those votes declared valid. Yildirim won all of the valid votes.

A co-founder with Erdogan of the AKP, Yildirim has been the driving force behind major infrastructure projects in Turkey which were one of the pillars of the party’s electoral successes during its first decade in power.

He has been seen as someone who will help pursue two of Erdogan’s biggest priorities – the executive presidency and the fight against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the largely Kurdish southeast.

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