World News

Former Turkish PM breaks ties with Erdogan, ruling AK Party

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, once President Tayyip Erdogan’s closest ally, said on Friday he resigned from the ruling AK Party and again criticised its ability to govern, though he did not immediately launch a new party as expected.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a news conference at his ruling AK Party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/Files

“The AK Party, which has fallen under the control of a small team, no longer has the ability to be a solution to our country’s problems,” Davutoglu told a press conference in Ankara.

“It is evident that there is no internal evaluation, that the channels for...negotiations are closed, and that there is no possibility of an internal change,” he added.

Five other lawmakers resigned from the AK Party (AKP) alongside Davutoglu, 60. The party had earlier taken disciplinary action against him over his criticism of its policies, and was expected to soon dismiss him.

“In order to prevent the AK Party’s loyal base from living through the sadness of seeing their own chairman dismissed, we are resigning from our party, for which we gave years of brow sweat and guidance,” added Davutoglu, a professor.

The AKP, which has governed Turkey since 2002, did not immediately respond publicly to the resignation.

Davutoglu served as prime minister between 2014 and 2016 before falling out with Erdogan. He later slammed Erdogan and the AKP’s economic management, and its curbing of basic liberties and free speech.

Last year, after winning sweeping powers under a new executive presidential system that Davutoglu called “distorted,” Erdogan named his son-in-law Berat Albayrak finance minister. Davutoglu had harshly criticized the move, saying the country did not belong to a person or a family.

Former economy tsar Ali Babacan and former president Abdullah Gul, both founding AKP members, plan to launch a new rival party this year.

At the press conference, Davutoglu did not hint that he would be joining them, but instead reiterated their view that the country needed a new political direction.

“It has become a historic responsibility for us to build a new political movement,” Davutoglu said.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer