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‘We haven’t met for two months’ – North ‘PM’ Ustel under pressure from backbenchers

izlem gurcag altugra
File photo: Izlem Gurcag Altugra

Izlem Gurcag Altugra on Thursday night became second backbench ‘MP’ from the largest party in the north’s ruling coalition, the UBP, to offer harsh criticism for ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel.

Speaking to Kibris TV, she said “despite our persistent requests, the parliamentary party has not met for two months.”

She added that the party’s congress has not met since the ‘parliamentary’ by-election which was held in June.

She also reacted with indignation to Ustel’s recent statements when he announced that the next party conference would be held in September next year.

Ustel had said “there is no such thing as the UBP holding a conference just because someone wants one, or whenever someone wants one.”

In response, Altugra said “we are not just anyone. We are UBP MPs elected by the people. I do not accept the line that a party conference cannot be held just because someone wants one.”

“This should be first discussed at a meeting of the parliamentary party, and then should go to the party’s board of directors, and then to the party congress … MPs, directors, party congress members are not just anyone,” she added.

She went on to accuse Ustel of “ignoring” party members, “acting with threats”, and “instilling a culture of fear” in the party.

The debate over when the UBP should hold a party conference has been running since fellow backbench ‘MP’ Hasan Tacoy had said in August that a party conference should be held this year, and announced his intention to challenge Ustel for the party’s leadership.

After Ustel announced the conference would be held in September, he had accused Ustel and the UBP’s leadership of “playing very dangerous games and “harming our democracy”.

“As someone who has devoted years to politics since my youth, I feel the need to say I have never seen or experienced such a messy situation before,” he added.

Both Tacoy and Altugra had been ‘ministers’ in Ustel’s cabinet before being relegated to the backbenches in August, with Tacoy having worked as ‘labour minister’ and Altugra as ‘health minister’.

The UBP have 24 ‘MPs’ in the north’s 50-seat ‘parliament’, and are the largest party in a tripartite coalition with the DP and the YDP, which combined has 29 seats.

Unal Ustel has been ‘prime minister’ since April 2022, when he took over from predecessor Faiz Sucuoglu after Sucuoglu failed to form a ruling coalition.

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