A fight broke out in the İzmir Provincial Organization Congress of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on Sunday between İzmir Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu and İzmir deputy Tuncay Özkan on the issue of deputies who were chosen for the Party Council list of Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during the candidacy process.
Speaking at the congress, Kocaoğlu said those who became deputy candidates through the Party Council list cannot interfere with İzmir's governance, implying Özkan, who was on the list in the last pre-election process.
Responding to Kocaoğlu's accusations, Özkan approached the rostrum and made a speech that escalated tension among party members. Özkan condemned Kocağoğlu's statement and accused him of not reaching his position through primaries. "How do you trample on our party bylaw? It was not decent of you. I have been in prison for six years. Yes, I have come through the contingent. I am asking you in which primaries were you elected?" Several party members reacted to Özkan and walked up to him with slogans and hoots despite security officers' efforts. Amid the scuffle between party members, the head of the provincial organization, Bedri Serter, tried to settle down the atmosphere. Later on, a 10-minute break was taken. After the defeat in the Nov. 1 elections in which the party received 25.3 percent of the vote and 133 seats in Parliament, the CHP is preparing for the general party congress, which will be held on Jan. 15-16. The required 120 signatures necessary for becoming a candidate for the party chairmanship is the main obstacle for possible candidates. Key opposition figures – Umut Oran and Mustafa Balbay – who already declared their intention to run against Kılıçdaroğlu, are not expected to get enough support for candidacy. According to sources close to the party, Kılıçdaroğlu is planning to change the Central Executive Board (MYK) and Party Council in order to ease the pressure put on by opposition in the party.
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