Muharrem İnce, the Republican People's Party's (CHP) presidential candidate, continued to threaten Second Army Cmdr. Lt. Gen. İsmail Metin Temel on Saturday. İnce said that if he gets elected president, he will remove the general's epaulets because he applauded President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at an iftar dinner.
Speaking in a televised interview on May 9, İnce had said he will make Temel retire on August 30.
"I will retire him on August 30th. There, Erdoğan does not praise the army, does not praise the flag. There, Erdoğan criticizes me while the pasha applauds. We lost the Balkans because of the political interference of the army," he said.
İnce made the remarks about Temel after he applauded Erdoğan for criticizing him at a meeting. İnce said that Temel's applause was contradictory to his objectivity as an officer.
İnce has been criticized by government officials for his threats to the commander, who also led the Operation Olive Branch against the PKK's Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG) in northwestern Syria's Afrin province.
On the issue, Erdoğan slammed İnce by saying that he is acting as if he wants to be a "king" of the country.
"What happens after he takes the mission, while he is already doing this?" the president said last week.
National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said İnce exceeded the limits by threatening a commander who fights terrorists for his nation.
"Lt. Gen. İsmail Metin Temel is a heroic commander who manages Turkey's heroic Turkish Armed Forces on the battlefield where the territorial integrity is threatened and innocent people are killed. These epaulets were given to him by our nation. Your force is not enough to remove these epaulets," Canikli said.
Temel has been praised for the successful conduct of the operations by different circles of society. Temel will reportedly lead the operation planned against the PKK headquarters in the Qandil mountains, in northern Iraq.
Recently, İnce also stirred more controversy as he vowed to purge all governors if he comes out as winner in the June 24 presidential elections.
Accusing governors of acting as Justice and Development Party (AK Party) representatives, İnce said his strategy will be to purge all governors once he is elected. İnce added that low-ranking public servants will continue working in their positions.
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