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AKP lawmaker resigns from party and parliament, joins opposition

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A lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has announced his resignation from the AKP and also from parliament, voicing his unhappiness with some members of the party and saying he will join an opposition party.

Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba, a medical doctor by profession who was elected to parliament from the AKP in 2015 and served briefly as the country’s agriculture minister between 2017 and 2018, announced his resignation in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

Fakıbaba said although he is sorry to leave his “valuable” friends at the AKP, he is happy to part ways with others who act contrary to his understanding of doing politics and honesty.

He said he is also resigning from membership in parliament to avoid offending his constituents.

In a later statement, the veteran politician, who also served as mayor of the southeastern city of Şanlıurfa, announced he would join the opposition İYİ (Good) Party.

In remarks to the Sözcü daily, Fakıbaba said after his resignation from the AKP that he has the right, as a person who has no affiliation with any party, to choose the party he wants. He said he did not want to offend AKP voters by not resigning from parliament and was convinced to join the ranks of the İYİ Party after talking to İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener twice.

He also told the T24 news website that he is determined about his resignation and sent notification of it to AKP headquarters by mail.

“It is not easy to part ways with a party you worked with … for years. I’m not a person who would do this for no reason. I’m leaving because there are things that I’m not happy with. I will stand behind my decision even if there is ‘death’ at the end,” said Fakıbaba.

The politician’s resignation comes at a time when there are widespread claims about AKP officials and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being involved in corruption and relations with crime groups.

Moreover, Turkey has been suffering from a deteriorating economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record under AKP rule over the past several years. Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

Fakıbaba’s resignation also comes at a time when public surveys show declining public support for the Public Alliance, comprising the AKP and its election ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), amid the country’s economic and social woes.

The politician, who ran as an independent candidate, was elected mayor of the Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality with 77 percent of the vote in the local elections of 2007. He joined the AKP in 2013 while he was still mayor.

Fakıbaba was applauded by opposition figures for his decision to resign from the AKP.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a prominent human rights activist, called the politician’s decision to part ways with the AKP an “honorable” one.

He said although it was a bit late, Fakıbaba did what was necessary and said “enough” to the oppression of the people at the hands of the AKP. He said he hopes other AKP lawmakers will follow suit.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency and Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) did not report Fakıbaba’s resignation. When the former finance minister and Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak resigned in November 2020, it took these outlets hours to let their readers know about the resignation, leading to claims of censorship so as to not anger Erdoğan.

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