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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushing more mayors to resign amid AK shake-up ahead of 2019 elections

Turkish President (Photo by AFP)

Three more Turkish mayors, including the high-profile mayor of the capital Ankara, will resign, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says, as he seeks to repair the image of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party ahead of 2019 elections.
“Three mayors from our party have handed in their resignations so far, and there are three more. I believe they will hand theirs in as soon as possible,” Erdogan told a conference in Ankara on Thursday.
Erdogan warned that the three mayors, including Melih Gokcek of Ankara, would face AK action if they refused to voluntarily step down.
“Those whose resignations we are waiting for are preparing to hand theirs in, otherwise we will do what is necessary,” the Turkish president said.
Erdogan seeks changes in major municipalities as part of his plans to revitalize the AK and prepare it for Turkish general elections in 2019.
However, he seems to be specifically angry with the mayors of the big cities over the results of a referendum in April, which granted him sweeping powers. Erdogan won the referendum but voters in 17 of ’s 30 largest cities rejected AK-proposed changes in the country’s constitution.
Up to now, mayors of Istanbul, the northwestern city of Duzce and the central city of Nigde have submitted their resignations.

This file photo shows Mayor of Ankara Melih Gokcek speaking during an interview in Ankara. (Photo by AFP)

Local media have reported that Erdogan has, in addition to the Ankara mayor, called on mayors of the northwestern cities of Balikesir and Bursa to resign.
Gokcek, in office for 23 years, has so far resisted the resignation call. He is an ardent supporter of Erdogan and has defended a large-scale crackdown launched since a failed coup last year. Many say, however, that he would have no option but to resign in the face of growing pressure from Erdogan and his close allies.