Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has lambasted the newly appointed interior minister, Efkan Ala -- who took over from Muammer Güler after he resigned due to links with an ongoing corruption scandal -- calling him an element of the “deep state” of the ruling party.
Ala has become the primary focus of the main opposition leader's critical comments on Erdoğan's new Cabinet.
Kılıçdaroğlu, speaking live on CNN Türk on Wednesday night, responded to journalists' questions on the recent investigations that have shaken the government and compelled the prime minister to perform a thorough Cabinet reshuffle. He also discussed his recent visit to the US, which was made the subject of some conspiracy theories in circles close to the government.
When asked whether he shares views that Ala's appointment means the formation of a “war cabinet,” he replied that Ala was the person who ordered the use of excessive force in quelling the Gezi Park demonstrations, bypassing the İstanbul governor and the chief of police.
“Now, all the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] deputies should ask themselves why there was not even a single person among the deputies who could have been chosen as interior minister and why an undersecretary of the prime minister was given this position [from outside Parliament],” he said.
He said the Cabinet reshuffle is of no use to the government unless it stops intervening in the judiciary.
Referencing the ongoing investigations into corruption and bribery allegations, the CHP leader said a precautionary attitude needs to be adopted and that everyone should refrain from stigmatizing suspects as guilty. “The point of our objection is ‘Why are you [trying to] cover up the truth?' We have no problem as long as the state institutions keep working [in harmony],” he said.
Newly appointed Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ also received his share of criticism from the main opposition leader. Bozdağ is tied to Erdoğan's apron strings and fulfills whatever order he is given without question, Kılıçdaroğlu asserted, and added: “He says whatever [Erdoğan wants him] to say. If [the prime minister] orders him to intervene in a court file, he will intervene without asking any questions. All the deputies in Parliament already know this.”
The CHP leader was asked if he thinks the government should resign, and he said it should consider this as the people have lost confidence in it. If early elections are brought up, the CHP will have no objection, he asserted.
Kılıçdaroğlu faced accusations that he and his party are involved in an international conspiracy to weaken and eventually topple the AK Party government with plots like the ongoing graft probes. He visited the US two weeks ago and also had lunch with US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone upon his return to evaluate his trip. The timing of the lunch was completely coincidental, he said, adding that the reason for the meeting was solely to assess the effects of his US visit and share his observations with the American diplomat.
“We are pro-Turkey; there's no doubt about that. I went to China, and nobody tagged me as pro-China. I went to Britain and Iraq and sent my colleagues to Egypt. We see that the AK Party is confining the country to its region alone, but Turkey is a big country that cannot be restricted to its own geographical [zone],” he said.