However, Sav has called all the CHP's provincial branches for a meeting in Ankara on Saturday. He is expected to ask for support against Kılıçdaroğlu. There are rumors that he will play the final trump card, which is an extraordinary congress, against the CHP leader if he fails to persuade him to trust him with a critical post in the party. For over a week, the main opposition party has been experiencing challenging times following an order by Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya to put the party's new by-laws into practice within two weeks.
The new by-laws were intended to significantly reduce Sav’s role in the administration of the party. Sav is better known as the “leader behind the scenes” of the CHP. The former secretary-general is unwilling to see his power curbed, so when Kılıçdaroğlu made a major change in the party administration as part of efforts to implement the new by-laws, Sav was infuriated and started to gather signatures from delegates for an extraordinary congress. Sav planned to use his power over CHP delegates to change the party leader at the congress. Neither Sav nor his close circle of friends appear in the new CHP administration.
Kılıçdaroğlu resisted Sav’s challenge and worked to eradicate his influence on the main opposition party. In response, Sav applied to the Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor’s Office to annul Kılıçdaroğlu’s new Central Executive Board (MYK). However, the office instead gave the go-ahead to Kılıçdaroğlu by approving his new MYK.
The new MYK of the main opposition party convened yesterday under the chairmanship of Kılıçdaroğlu to evaluate recent intra-party developments.
After 37 years in CHP administration, Sav is no longer holds a critical post in the main opposition party. However, he still remains influential with CHP delegates. Most believe he may dethrone Kılıçdaroğlu if the CHP does hold a congress.
CHP’s provincial chairmen are reportedly divided in their support. While some of them are clear supporters of either Kılıçdaroğlu or Sav, others remain undecided, still expecting the party leader and the former secretary general to bury the hatchet.
The most surprising support for Kılıçdaroğlu came from 14 members of CHP’s İstanbul provincial branch. Contrary to their chairman Berhan Şimşek’s open support for Sav, the 14 members instead voiced support for the CHP leader.
Mehmet Akif Hamzaçebi, a CHP group deputy chairman, said the main opposition party will head for an extraordinary congress only if the party organization or the party leader desires. “There is no such intention at the moment. But the party organization or delegates may wish to hold an extraordinary congress. In addition, the party leader may decide to hold such a congress,” he noted.
Ali Rıza Ertemür, a member of the CHP Party Council, said no congress is looming on the horizon. “We will only hold a congress if our leader wishes. We will work to bring our party to power,” he added.
Baykal voices support for Kılıçdaroğlu
Former CHP leader Deniz Baykal, who is now a deputy, expressed full support for Kılıçdaroğlu. Baykal resigned from CHP leadership in May after an intimate video of him during an affair with a female party deputy was posted online.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Baykal said: “There is no dispute against the CHP leader. We may have ‘family’ problems but we will settle them within the family.” By saying “family,” the former leader was referring to the party.
“I have respect for all members of the CHP. No one has the right to exclude others. The CHP cannot be engaged in such attempts. We will stand shoulder to shoulder,” he said.
In response to a question whether he would run for CHP leadership, Baykal said the main opposition party already has a leader and what falls on all CHP members is to support him in his activities. “The CHP cannot look for a new leader when it is heading for general elections. The matter has been settled. Its existing leader will take the CHP to the general elections,” he added.
Baykal also denied that the CHP is in chaos. He said the problem is with the MYK and Party Council of the CHP, but not with the party itself. “The problems will be settled,” he assured.
The turmoil in the CHP is unlikely to be settled soon because the party has also been rattled by the appointment of Süheyl Batum as the secretary-general.
Batum is better known for his ultranationalist identity and staunch opposition to the controversial ban on the use of the Muslim headscarf. Reportedly, Gürsel Tekin, who has been appointed with responsibility for the party organization, and many other CHP members are disturbed to see Batum as the new CHP secretary general.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s first message: headscarf issue
On Friday afternoon, Kılıçdaroğlu sent out a Twitter message in which he hinted support for the lifting of the ban on the Muslim headscarf. He said no one has the right to judge people who have made lifestyle choices without pressure from their families or friends.
He said there are many headscarf-wearing women whose hearts are filled with love for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic. “We will trust one another without fear and respect everyone’s choices,” he added in his message. Kılıçdaroğlu is better known for back-peddling on promises he’s made on headscarf freedoms. Recently, he declined to contribute to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) efforts in lifting the ban although he previously had pledged to support any move taken for headscarf freedoms.