Turkish PM Erdogan signals lifting self-imposed three-term restriction

Photo: Turkish PM Erdogan signals lifting self-imposed three-term restriction / Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that he is open to a change of internal party rules which would let him stand for a fourth term as leader of Turkey, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

"I do not have such a demand. However, if my party wishes so, I may run at the [party] congress," Erdogan said yesterday.

Erdogan's remarks came at a meeting with representatives of local media outlets in Ankara, where he was asked whether he would consider moving on after his third term in office, which began in March 2003, following the first victory of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in November 2002.

"My wish is to work for three terms and rest for one term, and then move on with the mission," Erdogan said.

As Erdogan has fiercely opposed a change in the internal regulations of the AKP, which prevents party lawmakers from serving more than three consecutive terms, his muted remarks have led to much backstage speculation in the ruling party.

There has been speculation in Turkey that Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, may try to remain prime minister in the next general election in 2015, even though under current party rules he cannot run again.

He has long been expected to run for the presidency in an August vote. President Abdullah Gül is, in turn, seen as a possible candidate for the head of the AKP and prime minister.

But Erdogan's failure to establish the executive presidency he wanted to beef up the largely ceremonial role, and a graft scandal shaking his government, have fuelled speculation that he may seek to remain prime minister.

In October 2013, before the revelation of the huge graft probe shaking his government, Erdogan said he would run for the presidency if asked to do so by his party, but has dismissed suggestions that he would go head to head with Gül in a showdown for the job.

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