Another mayor has resigned in Turkey over what he called pressure and threats “beyond unbearable” by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
Ahmet Edip Ugur, mayor of the northwestern province of Balikesir, said Monday that he resigned after he and his family became subject to increasing threats from the AK Party.
Ugur, who was speaking to reporters during a news conference, burst into tears when he lamented that democracy was something broken in Turkey, saying Erdogan and his close allies were purging people on fabricated charges of links to plotters of the July 2016 coup attempt.
“There is no corruption, no irregularity, no failures on my side…but despite this, there are pressures and threats coming all the way into your home and to your family. This is beyond unbearable,” said Ugur. He added that he was “sorry, hurt, but in peace,” before breaking into tears.
He said he had no ties to the movement of Fethullah Gulen, an opposition cleric based in the United States who is accused by Ankara of having orchestrated the coup attempt. Gulen has repeatedly denied any involvement in the botched putsch.
More than 150,000 people have been dismissed from their jobs over links to the opposition figure and another 50,000 are behind bars on similar charges.
Ugur became the sixth mayor to resign from his post over the past weeks. Other mayors from the ruling party who have stepped down in recent weeks include the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, who resigned Saturday, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas and mayors of Nigde, Duzce and Bursa.
Gokcek, a close ally of Erdogan who had supported the post-coup crackdown on dissent, resigned after serving for 23 years.
The resignation of mayors in Turkey came after Erdogan and the top echelon in the AK Party became unhappy about the low level of support shown in major Turkish cities for the party’s proposed changes in a constitutional referendum in April.
Unlike Ugur, Gokcek hailed Erdogan’s rule and said the president was making Turkey a leading country.
“I leave my post of mayor upon orders from our leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” said Gokcek while announcing his resignation, adding, “This is not because I think I‘m unsuccessful, tired or for some other reason. I am solely realizing the request of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who I believe will make my country a leading nation.”