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‘Is it appropriate for a man of God to slander me?’ (Update)

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File photo: Erhan Arikli

The war of words inside the north’s ruling coalition party the YDP continued on Friday, with party leadership candidates Erhan Arikli and Talip Atalay trading verbal blows.

Atalay had reacted to incumbent party leader Arikli’s statement regarding the party “suffering a big blow” if his leadership is challenged at the upcoming party conference, asking him “are you the party base which would not be able to handle a party conference?”

He added, “don’t do this, it’s not right. You would be humiliating our base. Stop using derogatory language.”

Additionally, he said he had considered moving against Arikli earlier, before the north’s municipal elections in December 2022, but that he had been told by Arikli that “Turkey wants us to show a united front.”

“He kept us aligned with him by saying this, but later we realised that it was not Turkey’s request at all, but rather a request from people within our party to Turkey,” he said, adding that this was a “completely massive deception”.

In response, Arikli asked, “who did you talk to in Ankara to come to the conclusion I was deceiving you?”

He then referenced Atalay’s theologian roots and previous career as head of the north’s religious affairs directorate, asking “is it appropriate for a man of God to slander me like this?

In his own response later on Friday, Atalay said “having a row is Arikli’s style, we will not go around starting rows.”

He added, “a change is needed. If I were party leader, I would realise this. People have lost faith in whether Erhan Arikli is telling the truth or lying. He should fix his mental state.”

“I expect Arikli to withdraw from the leadership race. In saying what he said to me, that is the message I received,” he said.

As a result of Atalay’s latest comments, both candidates have now called upon each other to drop out of the race. The YDP’s party conference is due to take place on February 17.

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