The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) held its third extraordinary congress in Ankara Sunday with major turnout and excitement among both public and party members, while deputies pointed to the start of a new era with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's re-joining the party.
The historic congress to re-elect President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as AK Party chairman was also attended by various representatives from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as well as ambassadors from 43 countries including Germany, Iran, Israel and numerous African countries along with 44 representatives from embassies. In addition to NGOs and ambassadors, Turkey's opposition party representatives including those from the Motherland Party (ANAP), the Democrat Party (DP), the Great Union Party (BBP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) as well as Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) were among the attendees.
The extraordinary congress began with opening remarks from the AK Party's deputy chairman in charge of organizations, Mustafa Ataş, who read aloud the party by-laws. Ataş continued on with his remarks by welcoming President Erdoğan and stating that the effective, global role of the party and Turkey as a whole comes along with Erdoğan's leadership, saying: "You [referring to President Erdoğan] have eliminated all risks. …Our vision is now even wider as we are one step close to implementing the presidential system." The congress continued with ongoing chanting and singing by attendees from all over Turkey, including provincial organization members of the AK Party. The complex's facilities included Turkish flags along with AK Party flags and various banners with slogans such as, "Together toward new goals," "Leader of change, the president of the people." Speaking to Daily Sabah, Cevdet Yılmaz, AK Party deputy chairman responsible for publicity and the media, drew attention to the significance of the congress, noting that the congress signals a "new era" for the entire nation in the wake of the April 16 constitutional referendum.
While the AK Party will also hold its ordinary congress next year, it is also to conduct more than 3,000 congresses amid aims to rejuvenate the party collectively throughout its organizational efforts until the 2019 elections, according to information obtained by Daily Sabah from AK Party sources. Meanwhile, yesterday's congress also saw the election of the AK Party Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) and the election of a party chairman. Commenting on the congress, AK Party Istanbul Deputy Ravza Kavakçı, who was elected initially in the June 7 elections, expressed her joy to Daily Sabah, saying she is extremely excited to be able to work under President Erdoğan's chairmanship. Stressing that there is much to be done in the new era, Kavakçı stated that the new period will enhance Turkey entirely.
Furthermore, Yılmaz touched upon the changes to be made in the new era, saying: "There will be some changes to the party bylaws including the introduction of the vice chairmanship position. We are also enhancing the MKYK and providing flexibility with great discipline. With new changes, we are forecasting a more disciplined era." He also noted that another aspect of flexibility to the party's bylaws includes the three-term rule for party members in which Yılmaz signaled changes to the rule. Also, speaking to A Haber news channel at the congress, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş signaled revisions to the Cabinet in the new era under President Erdoğan, affirming that "The congress will further enhance the AK Party moving forward."