Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his election rival Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce started a war of words over Second Army Commander Lt. Gen. İsmail Metin Temel, who applauded a speech delivered by Erdoğan criticizing İnce during an iftar dinner in Malatya province on Thursday.
“I will strip his epaulettes off. Are you a general of the Turkish military or a provincial head of the AKP [Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party]? Everyone should know their limits,” İnce told the press in his hometown of Yalova.
Erdoğan hit back at İnce during his election campaign in Konya, accusing him of exceeding his limits.
“People will never give you the opportunity to strip the epaulettes off our general [Temel] but will bury you at the ballot box so you won’t dare compete for the chairmanship of the CHP that you so badly want,” Erdoğan said, adding that he has a special relationship with Lt. Gen. Temel because of Turkey’s military operation in the Afrin region of Syria.
Erdoğan also accused İnce and the CHP of trying to take revenge for the Afrin operation by targeting Temel.
Temel was seen in a video applauding when Erdoğan mocked İnce during the iftar dinner in Malatya on Thursday.
Turkey will hold snap presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.