TURKISH President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday he will chair a cabinet meeting on January 19, a step forward in his plans to make the presidential role more powerful.
Turkish media reported rumours of friction between Erdogan’s team and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office after Davutoglu rejected comments last week from an Erdogan aide saying the president will convene the cabinet on Jan. 5.
Erdogan set the record straight on Monday.
“I have discussed the issue with the prime minister and I will be convening the cabinet on January 19,” Erdogan told reporters.
The Turkish leader, who dominated politics for more than a decade as prime minister, has made no secret of his desire to change the constitution to introduce a presidential system.
He became Turkey’s first directly elected president in August and promised to wield far greater influence than predecessors who took a largely ceremonial role.
In calling the cabinet meeting, he used a presidential authority that has not been exercised at least for decades.
The meeting will take place in the Presidential Palace, a lavish compound on the outskirts of the capital which critics say is evidence of growing authoritarian tendencies.
Erdogan has made clear he believes that the direct nature of August’s vote – in which he won 52 percent – enables him to exercise stronger powers even without changing the constitution, maintaining his presence at the heart of Turkish politics.
Opponents fear his increasing intolerance of dissent would become even more pronounced if he had presidential powers without a parliament strong enough to rein him in.
“The president can exercise his powers…I can get together with the cabinet from time to time, this should not bother anyone,” he told reporters.