World Bulletin/News Desk
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will be Turkey's next president until 2023 and parliament will change the constitution to bestow more powers on the office, a senior party official said on Saturday.
Turkey's most dominant politician in generations, Erdogan has said he will run for office if his party asks him to, but has yet to announce his candidacy for an August election.
The three-time prime minister is widely expected to become Turkey's first directly elected president after constitutional changes made in 2007. So far he has no rival for the race.
"Erdogan will continue to serve the people. In fact he will continue as president," said Mehmet Ali Sahin, deputy chairman of the ruling AK Party and a former cabinet minister.
Sahin said he expected the AK Party to take more seats in a 2015 general election, enough to change the constitution and allow Erdogan to remain the head of his party, rather than being a supposedly neutral head of state, as is currently required.
"That way Erdogan will be president as a member of a political party, and he will continue to serve our people until 2023," Sahin said in comments broadcast by NTV news channel.
There is a widespread sentiment among Turkish people that wants Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to run for the presidential elections on August 10, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc also said on Saturday.
The ruling Justice and Development Party is likely to announce its presidential candidate in mid-June, Arinc told Qatar-based TV channel Al Jazeera.
Stressing that his party gained landslide victories in the last three parliamentary elections, he said that rarely a political party stays in power for this long and becomes consistently successful in its foreign policies.
“We believe in the love and constant support that the people have for us,” he said.
Turkey's ruling party since 2002, the Justice and Development Party won 45.5 percent of the nation-wide vote in the local elections on March 30.
Erdogan remains Turkey's most popular politician despite many attempts to shake its government including last year's Gezi riots.
Under current rules, the president must cut ties with political parties and has powers that are largely ceremonial. The office is now held by Erdogan's political ally Abdullah Gul.
The party failed to gather enough support from rival parties in parliament to change the constitution in a push in 2011.
Even without a change in the charter, Erdogan is expected to stamp his strong personality on the office and give it more authority, exercising its full powers if elected.
Opposition parties have not yet come up with their own candidates.
Turkey – Iraq relations
Meanwhile, stating that Turkey desires good and stable relations with Iraq, Arinc said, “We believe that Iraq’s territorial integrity is essential.”
“We understand that the wealth of Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people,” he said.
On May 23, Baghdad filed a lawsuit against Ankara over the flow of oil from Kurdish regional administration in Iraq's north to Turkey's Mediterranean export hub of Ceyhan.
The oil from the Kurdish region has been stored in Ceyhan for the last six months in line with an agreement signed between Ankara and Irbil.
The central government in Baghdad opposes the sale of the stored oil, claiming it would bypass the country’s national State Oil Marketing Company and violate Iraq’s constitution.
The Kurdish government in Irbil, however, says that Baghdad cut their share of the national budget and that they are determined to export oil via Turkey in order to compensate the loss.Last Mod: 01 Haziran 2014, 09:45