Turkish opposition rebels vote for leadership challenge

Nationalist Movement Party dissidents win chance for fresh leader after changing party rules

Turkish opposition rebels vote for leadership challenge

World Bulletin / News Desk

Dissidents within Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) secured Sunday vital changes to party rules that will allow them to hold a leadership vote next month. 

The rebels have been fighting to remove Chairman Devlet Bahceli, who has led the party for nearly 30 years, following the party’s poor showing in last November’s general election.

Sunday’s meeting at an Ankara hotel saw 659 delegates secure the right to hold a leadership election - easily passing the 594 threshold - at an extraordinary conference on July 10. The rules had previously barred a change of leader at an extraordinary meeting.

Four potential candidates to replace Bahceli - Meral Aksener, Sinan Ogan, Umit Ozdag and Koray Aydin - appeared together at the meeting, which was overseen by a court-appointed board of trustees.

The rebels had attempted to call a party congress earlier this year but were blocked by the leadership, leading to a legal case that finally resulted in Sunday’s meeting.

The revolt among members was sparked by the Nov. 1 general election that saw the MHP narrowly enter parliament as the party with the least number of seats - 40 in the 550-deputy Grand National Assembly.

Party officials loyal to Bahceli dismissed Sunday’s decision as "null and void" and claimed just 495 delegates had participated.

One, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media, told Anadolu Agency the party would not "even bother to take their objection to the court".

Bahceli said no one should recognize what he called an illegal meeting "under any circumstances".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Haziran 2016, 10:01