Turkey

Turkish police stop opp. MHP congress from taking place

Hundreds of dissident MHP members, who wanted to attend party's extraordinary congress, were blocked by police in Ankara

  | 15.05.2016
Turkish police stop opp. MHP congress from taking place MHP deputy Umit Ozdag (R2), and former MPs Koray Aydin (L2), Meral Aksener (R) and Sinan Ogan (L), have made a push to challenge Devlet Bahceli, who has led the party since 1997.

ANKARA

Hundreds of dissident members of the Turkish opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), aiming to challenge their party’s leadership, have dispersed after gathering Sunday in Ankara for a controversial extraordinary congress.

Turkish police had prevented Sunday morning the dissident MHP members from gaining access to the hotel where the congress was to take place.

Speaking on top of a bus before the crowd near Buyuk Anadolu Hotel, one of four dissident MHP members who have led the charge against the party leadership, Meral Aksener, called on the Court of Cassation – Turkey’s top administrative court - to “correct this mistake”.

"You [the Court of Cassation] must immediately correct this mistake, chaos and unlawfulness ," Aksener said. 

Party members, who had gathered near the hotel, left the area at Meral Aksener’s request.

Turkey's Court of Cassation announced on Wednesday that it would complete within May an appellate review of an Ankara-based civil court's decision on whether the opposition Nationalist Movement Party should hold its extraordinary congress.

MHP deputy Umit Ozdag, and former MPs Koray Aydin, Meral Aksener and Sinan Ogan, have made a push to challenge Devlet Bahceli, who has led the party since 1997. 

On Friday, another court, Ankara's 15th Enforcement Directorate, overruled a decision by Ankara’s 2nd Enforcement Court apparently green-lighting the congress. 

The four MHP dissidents had insisted Saturday that an extraordinary congress would take place on Sunday despite conflicting court rulings and threats of police intervention. 

On Sunday, the entrance of Buyuk Anadolu Hotel, where the congress was to take place, was closed off by police barricades in line, reportedly, with instructions from the Ankara Governorate. 

Hundreds of party members, who were not allowed to enter the hotel, stood in front of a training center belonging to Ministry of Customs and Trade and chanted slogans against the MHP's head office. 

Earlier on Sunday, MHP deputy Umit Ozdag, and former MPs Koray Aydin, Meral Aksener and Sinan Ogan issued a joint declaration saying: "The MHP has not been left astray. The congresses say the final word, not the chairmen." 

Ozdag, Aydin, Aksener and Ogan also recalled that the MHP's 548 delegates had demanded an extraordinary congress but the party's head office had ignored this demand. 

Party bylaws ban the election of a new leader at such extraordinary congresses. However, party dissidents hope to change such bylaws at the proposed extraordinary congress, which could eventually pave the way for the election of a new party leader. 

Dissidents within the MHP had approached the courts to force an extraordinary congress in the wake of the party's poor electoral showing in last November’s general election. 

Over 540 delegates had sent a petition to party headquarters demanding an extraordinary congress in the aftermath of the election, which saw the MHP lose its position as the third largest group in the parliament, falling behind the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

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