Kilicdaroglu sets condition for handing over leadership: "A candidate withouth baggage"
The leader of Turkey's main opposition party, who has been subjected to strong criticism over poor performance in the May elections, said that he would "immediately resign" in case "someone without a baggage" emerged as candidate for the party's leadership, Diken's Altan Sancar reported on Saturday.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), lost against Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 28 May by a margin of four points, and his party could make no gain in the parliamentary elections despite serious economic woes.
Altan said that in a recent meeting of the party's mayors, upon a remark by Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu that "there is a risk of losing the local elections if there is no change in the party," Kilicdaroglu responded: "Bring someone who knows CHP and who desn't have a baggage, and I will immediately resign."
Kilicdaroglu was subsequently interviewed by a group of journalists from pro-government daily Hurriyet. Asked to comment on calls to step down, he said that "he should continue" despite "having received injuries on 10 different fronts."
Hurriyet's Ugur Meleke asked: "Nowhere in the world would a football team's manager insist on appearing at the 11th match after having lost 10 matches in a row. What's your response to calls for resignation?"
Citing the existence of financial and media power of his rivals, hostile "professional social media agents" and "makers of fake videos," Kilicdaroglu replied:
"Does a commander continue fighting in a war after having received injuries on 10 fronts? Yes, he does and he should. I would never give up the struggle even if I weren't the party's leader."
Journalist Hande Firat noted that he had chosen to sign a deal with ultra nationalist Umit Ozdag even after the first round's results clearly showed that he received a crucial support from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). She asked Kilicdaroglu to comment on the deal, whether he had any regrets about HDP's support, and if he described the Gulenist movement, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and PYD's military wing People's Defense Units (YPG) as "terrorist groups."
Kilicdaroglu replied saying that the founder of both the Turkish Republic and CHP, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, "never had the intention of ruling Turkey with only CHP," and that Ataturk "brought into an alliance in the course of the war and afterwards hundreds of different groups and fronts."
Refraining from replying to the question about HDP, he said, "PKK, PYD, YPG, Gulenists and the Islamic State are terrorist groups."