First Published: 2017-02-17

Turkey ruling party official steps down over 'civil war' warning
Ozan Erdem resigns after saying Turkey risks civil war if there is not 'yes' vote in referendum on giving Erdogan greater powers.
Middle East Online

Ozan Erdem

ANKARA - A senior regional official with Turkey's ruling party resigned Thursday after saying the country risked civil war if there was not a 'yes' vote in a referendum on giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greater powers.

Turkey is to vote on April 16 on whether to approve changes in the constitution to create an executive presidency in the country that critics warn could lead to one-man rule.

But Ozan Erdem, deputy head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the western province of Manisa, this week warned that "if we don't get 50 percent... prepare yourself for civil war."

His comments were lambasted by the opposition but also troubled conservatives as tensions increase in Turkey's already polarised society ahead of the referendum.

Erdem resigned from his job on Thursday, while contending that "my comments were not presented in a way that reflected what I wanted to say."

The authorities say that the changes are needed to create more efficient governance and would bring Turkey into line with presidential systems like those in France or the United States.

But opponents fear the changes are a step on the way to an authoritarian system in the country and would inflame tensions in its diverse society.

Analysts predict that the referendum result could be tight, with many voters still undecided and the government preparing a huge campaign. Erdogan is due to kick off his rallies on Friday with a speech in the southern city of Kahramanmaras.

 

Rouhani seizes opportunity to get closer to Qatar

New crown prince widely welcomed in Saudi Arabia

Banned Bahraini newspaper fires staff

Iraq forces battle deep into devastated Old Mosul

Prime time for Ramadan on Gulf fashion calendar

Mali activists call for referendum to be abandoned

Iraqi forces control two thirds of Mosul Old City

Assad leads Eid prayers in Syria’s Hama

Lone-wolf attacks raise concern about new trend in terror

Erdogan slams Saudi demands of Qatar as illegal

Sudan making 'positive' steps on meeting US sanctions terms

Mecca suicide bombing injures six

Gulf crisis heats up as Qatar receives list of demands

Suicide attacks kill at least three people in Mosul

Civilians killed in Iraq suicide bomb attacks

UN warns Yemen cholera outbreak could infect 300,000 by September

Putin launches deep-water phase of TurkStream pipeline

Berlin warns Ankara against meddling in religious affairs

Asian states downplay 'Russia proposal' to send troops to Syria

Iran’s Salehi urges West to save historic nuclear deal

Iran, allies mark Jerusalem Day with rallies

US-led Syria strikes kill 472 civilians in one month

Morocco dismantles 'IS-linked cell plotting tourist attacks'

France sets out tough new anti-terror law

Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

Trump-Saudi ties help pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Turkish President accused of influencing courts