By Humeyra Pamuk
Turkey’s main opposition leader has accused President Tayyip Erdogan of blocking efforts to form a coalition government and warned him against taking the country to new elections through “blood politics” by reopening conflict with Kurdish militants.
The ruling AK Party, founded by Erdogan, holds its final day of initial talks with the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Monday as it tries to find a junior coalition partner after losing its parliamentary majority in a June election.
The domestic uncertainty comes as Turkey carries out air strikes against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) camps in northern Iraq and Islamic State fighters in Syria, in what the government has called a “synchronised fight against terror”.
“I say this with all sincerity: Prime Minister (Ahmet) Davutoglu really is willing to sit down and form a coalition and save the country from its problems,” CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu told Haberturk TV late on Sunday.
“But the person sitting in the post of presidency is not allowing it,” he told the Turkish broadcaster in an interview.
Erdogan’s opponents accuse him of launching military action against the PKK to rally nationalist support and undermine the pro-Kurdish opposition, whose strong showing in the June election helped deprive the AKP of its majority.
The government says the campaign against the PKK, which has left a peace process on the brink of collapse, was launched in response to a series of killings of military and police officers blamed on the Kurdish militants.
“The biggest reason why the peace process is derailed is Erdogan. He has openly objected to it,” Kilicdaroglu said. “If there is an aim to take the country to elections through blood politics, that would be extremely costly.”
The June election prevented the AKP from being able to govern alone for the first time since it came to power, plunging Turkey into political uncertainty not seen since the fragile coalition governments of the 1990s. Parties have until Aug. 23 to agree a working coalition or face a new election.
Erdogan has made little secret of his preference for single-party rule. Opponents say he wants another election to enable the AKP to win enough of a majority to change the constitution and grant him greater powers as an executive president.
Speaking to journalists travelling with him on a trip to Asia last week, Erdogan warned of what he saw as the dangers of fragile coalitions and extolled the virtues of single-party rule.
Four Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens were wounded in separate PKK attacks over the weekend in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast as violence escalated.