The word in the AKP is that, following the resignation of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş, the resignation of another five mayors has been demanded and the number may increase further. Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Melih Gökçek, the butt of President Tayyip Erdoğan’s comment, “Just now there is no such thing. But, this certainly does not mean that it won’t happen after this,” is said to be resisting the call to resign and to be engaging in negotiations over his son Osman Gökçek’s political future. There is talk of Balıkesir Mayor Ahmet Edip Uğur rejecting headquarters’ demand for him to resign and requesting an appointment for a meeting with Erdoğan, but no appointment having been given.
The change that President Erdoğan has initiated in the organisation with his emphatic refences to “metal fatigue” is continuing with mayors. Following Kadir Topbaş’s resignation in Istanbul, there has reportedly been a decision to remove the mayors of Ankara, Bursa, Balıkesir, Düzce and Niğde from their posts, too, and Düzce Mayor Mehmet Keleş resigned the day before yesterday. The other mayors are reputedly under instructions from headquarters to resign. However, Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Melih Gökçek and Balıkesir Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ahmet Edip Uğur are said to be resisting. There is talk of Uğur telling headquarters administrators who are calling on him to resign that, “My business is not with you. The chief put me in and the chief will take me out” and requesting an appointment for a meeting with Erdoğan, but this having been rejected. Uğur recently stated that he had opponents led by AKP Balıkesir MP Sema Kırcı and said, “Let them go to Yeşilçam and act.” These comments by Uğur have given rise to disquiet in the party.
Claims of “negotiations”
A further figure who will be called on to resign is Melih Gökçek. In response to journalists’ queries about the affair, President Erdoğan commented, “This kind of development happens in this process. But, just now there is no such thing. But, this certainly does not mean that it won’t happen after this, because we are undergoing and will undergo a change and transformation until the election and that issue I spoke of as metal fatigue is an issue that encompasses all this.” There is talk in AKP circles of Gökçek resisting the call to resign and engaging in negotiations with party administration over his son Osman Gökçek’s political future.
An open-ended process
Comments are being made in party circles that that the process involving the resignation of mayors will not stop at this and the number will rise further by the year end. There is talk of the possible inclusion of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Fatma Şahin among mayors who are for the chop along with those of Bolu, Uşak and Nevşehir. With President Erdoğan making an early start to the process involving the resignation of mayors, the purpose served is said to be to bring about a rejuvenation and smoothing of ruffled feathers in the organisation and municipalities up until the local elections.
Gökçek has spoken
On the other hand, the first pronouncement on the issue has come from Gökçek. Gökçek has commented, “We will never boost the endeavours of the centres of evil to sow discord. The atmosphere they are creating is one in which they twist everything you say in a certain way and conduct perception management. Supporting Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the duty of each individual in the community of believers, because Erdoğan is the leader, not only of Turkey, but of the community of believers. Those seeking to sow discord are wasting their efforts.”
Gökçek resisting for his son