Erdogan rejoins ruling AKP after 3 years

Indo Asian News Service

Ankara, May 2 (IANS) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejoined the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Tuesday after an absence of about three years, the first major change to come into effect following a controversial vote to boost his powers.

Erdogan was welcomed as a new member at a special ceremony at the party headquarters in Ankara by hundreds of AKP officials, Anadolu news agency reported.

Speaking at the ceremony, Erdogan said: "Today, I return to the party that I founded, my home, my passion, my love, which I had to leave according to our Constitution on August 27, 2014, when I was elected President."

Erdogan last month narrowly won a referendum on sweeping constitutional changes to create a presidential system in Turkey with just over 51 per cent of the vote.

Under the old system, the head of state had to break ties with their political party and Erdogan had to leave the AKP when he became President in August 2014 after serving 13 years as the Prime Minister.

Now, the new reforms permit the President to be a member of a political party, allowing Erdogan to return to the AKP which he co-founded in 2001. He is expected to chair the ruling party as well.

"I will nominate Erdogan as the candidate chairman of the party at the May 21 extraordinary congress," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said at the event.

Erdogan becomes the fourth President to retain his party ties.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, maintained his membership in the Republican People's Party (CHP), as did his successor, Ismet Inonu.

Turkey's third President Celal Bayar was also a member of the Democrat Party.