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Ruling AK Party rejects Ankara mayor resignation claims

RULING AK PARTY REJECTS ANKARA MAYOR RESIGNATION CLAIMS

The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party on Tuesday rejected claims about resignation of long-time mayor of capital Ankara, Melih Gokcek.

"None of the media reports about the resignation of Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek reflects the truth," AK Party Spokesman and Deputy Chairman Mahir Ünal told reporters.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is also the AK Party chairman, also spoke about the claims, telling the media in Ankara that no such thing was on the cards at the moment.

"But it doesn't mean that there won't be [such a thing]," the president added.

Erdoğan and Ünal's remarks came after reports emerged that Gökçek's name was among other mayors expected to quit following resignations of Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş and Düzce Mayor Mehmet Keleş.

The president hinted the recent resignations were part of a reform of the party before the 2019 elections.

"I hope we will prepare for the elections with a much livelier, more dynamic, stronger structure," he said.

In a speech last May, Erdoğan said the ruling party had been suffering from a "metal fatigue" and needed a substantial change.

"The AK Party's most important feature is its ability to renovate and renew itself," he had said.

Meanwhile, leader of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) urged ruling AK Party mayors not to resign from their posts.

In his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said mayors should retire from office only through a normal electoral process instead of resignations.

Kılıçdaroğlu termed such resignations as "unlawful" and "undemocratic" if the mayors are forced to resign.

"Those who resign should be held accountable before their voters...Those who resign are guilty. I am repeating it. Those who resign are guilty."

In the parliamentary group meeting of the opposition People's Democratic Party (HDP), Spokesman Osman Baydemir criticized reports about resignation of mayors.

Baydemir said an elected mayor must be unseated only by voters.

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