Unsatisfied dissidents declared yesterday that if incumbent Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu does not convene the extraordinary convention, they will commence collecting signatures for a bylaw convention as the new executive board of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) met yesterday amid heated debates over leadership.
"We promised that we would not take the issue to court and are committed to keeping our promise. In case the party administration refuses to hold a convention, we will use every democratic right envisaged in the party bylaws, including a convention for the bylaw," said the dissidents group, which is called the "Convention for Hope and Change."
"I never thought I would be chairman forever; nor I am desperate to cling to my seat," Kılıçdaroğlu said in his commentary for Hürriyet newspaper published yesterday, responding to dissidents' criticism that he wants to hold on to his position despite many election failures during his leadership. While he stated that associating the party's failure in the previous nine elections with the leader's incompetence would be wrong, Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that the demands of the dissidents were met by implementing changes in the Central Executive Board (MYK). Many opposition figures have said the recent changes in the MYK were not addressing dissidents' criticism and claimed that Kılıçdroğlu had furthered strengthened his position by filling up the MYK with figures in his circle.
Dissidents have been blaming incumbent party leader Kılıçdaroğlu, who has led the party since 2011, for the nine failures in previous elections, hence calling for a change in the administration. The dissidents started the process of collecting signatures for a convention on July 16 following the failure in the June 24 elections.
Following the announcement of the party's administration that the dissidents had failed to collect the quorum for a convention, the dissidents have been unceasingly protesting the administration with hunger strikes, sit-in protests and resignations.
CHP's intraparty opposition met in Ankara on Sunday to discuss a road map and determine further moves against the party's leadership. The dissidents are planning to call for a convention to change the party's bylaws. To convene the convention for bylaws, 249 signatures from the delegates have to be collected.
After the meeting, Gaye Usluer, a prominent figure in the dissident faction, stated: "Our collected 630 signatures were reduced to fewer than 600. Delegates who signed the petition are still keeping their stance. Delegates want the administration to take action."
Despite Usluer's statements, half of the invited delegates did not attend the meeting. The dissent emphasized that at a time when Turkey is in crisis, discussing a convention for bylaws is not right, and Kılıçdaroğlu should gather the party. In relation to the issue, a member of CHP's Party Assembly, Erdal Aksünger, who did not participate in the meeting, commented that if the bylaws convention is held, he would support amendments in the bylaws; however, pointing out the turmoil that the country is in, he expressed that he did not approve of holding such a meeting.
Muharrem İnce, who ran twice against Kılıçdaroğlu for party chairmanship but lost and is now the leading figure of the dissidents, exposed a fissure in the dissident faction with his statements before the meeting. "The executive body and the chairman are elected for two years. Therefore, they are considered tenants, while we are the hosts. When the tenant damages the house and refuses to leave, will the hosts demolish the house?" İnce said, signaling postponement of the convention for the bylaws. Reportedly, while some dissidents are planning to postpone the convention for bylaws debates until the upcoming elections due to the crisis between Turkey and the U.S., the majority of prominent figures are still holding onto their struggle.