Senior Kurdish founding figure resigns from Turkey’s ruling AKP

Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, a senior member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has announced that he will step down from Turkey’s ruling party.

Fırat, one of the founders of the AKP, made the announcement on his Facebook page.
“I am stepping down from the AKP, of which I am among one of the founders, and I will provide some details for my reasons soon,” Fırat said.

Fırat stepped down as an AKP Deputy Chair in Nov. 8, 2008, as a reaction to his party’s policies towards the Kurdish issue. Until then, he was seen as a senior member of the party alongside Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet, Fırat said: “the contract between society and the party has now been annulled.”

“When a party is founded, its program is a sort of social contract with the voters. You put your targets on paper. Everybody agrees and a political party is formed. Now, if the conditions of this contract are not realized, then this contract is annulled,” he said.

Fırat added that the party had listed its targets and ideals in its code, but “failed to meet most of them, and in fact did the exact opposite of some of them,” citing the “presidential system,” as an example of the AKP’s failures.

“In the works for a new charter around 2007 and 2008, there was a focus on the parliamentary system, not the presidential system. And there was a limit to the President’s authority,” he said. “Then we should ask, what has changed, was there a need for things to change? For me, the [social] contract between society and the AKP is annulled.”

Fırat was also known for his public debates with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who has accused the former AKP Deputy Chair of being corrupt.

Despite these claims, Fırat has been critical of the AKP since the graft probe came to light on Dec. 17, 2013, stating that the allegations surrounding four former Cabinet ministers and some people close to Prime Minister Erdoğan, “could not be covered.”

Last week, Fırat announced he would be voting for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtaş, and not Erdoğan, in the upcoming presidential elections.

Fırat has joined a list of important political figures, including Hakan Şükür, Ertuğrul Günay and İdris Bal, to resign from the AKP since December last year.

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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