MHP dissident Akşener to form new Nationalist Turkey Party

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 22.06.2017 00:26

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) dissidents led by former Minister of the Interior Meral Akşener have launched efforts to establish a new political party, which political sources in Ankara have stated will be known as the ‘Nationalist Turkey' party.

In June 2016, MHP intra-party dissidents Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ organized an extraordinary congress amid aims to change a party by-law that restricts emergency, party leadership caucuses.

However, earlier this week an Ankara court ruled in favor of the annulment of last year's congress held by the dissident group, declaring all decisions made in the scope of the congress as null and void.

The lawsuit was launched by Cemal Enginyurt, a delegate to the MHP Higher Board and a member of the Central Executive Board (MYK), who opposed the emergency party congress.

Sources close to the MHP indicated that in the wake of the court decision, party dissidents who had been weighing their options decided to form a new political party called "Nationalist Turkey."

Akşener has been accused of having close ties with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), with MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli claiming in December 2015 that FETÖ used one of the party's candidates as a "political tool." The MHP chairman said, "There is a candidate who joined the MHP as a political figure from the Gülen Movement." Even though Bahçeli did not name this "political tool," Akşener's lawyer, Nuri Polat, is one of 30 suspects who were arrested earlier in April for alleged links to the terror group. Akşener was quick to dismiss claims that she was the "tool," adding that she would have "proudly acknowledged it if that were the case."

The legal battle and the subsequent fight for leadership within the MHP began after the Nov. 1, 2015 national elections, in which the party barely crossed the 10 percent threshold, losing half of its deputies compared to the June 7 elections.

Since then, Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan and Koray Aydın have raised their voices against current MHP Chairman Bahçeli, who has ruled the party since 1997. The group was later joined by Vice-Chairman Ümit Özdağ, along with a number of other deputies.

MHP party administrators backed the "yes" campaign in the April 16 referendum, along with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). On the other hand, the MHP dissident camp backed the "no" campaign alongside the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) during the April 16, 2017 referendum on constitutional reform and the switch to a presidential system.

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