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19:46, 20 August 2014 Wednesday

Davutoglu likely to be new Turkish PM

Davutoglu likely to be new Turkish PM

Outgoing Turkish President Gul said 'As far as it seems, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will take over as prime minister'



Outgoing Turkish president Abdullah Gul said on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was likely to take over as chairman of the ruling AK Party, and thus become the next prime minister.

Turkey's current prime minister and AKP chairmain Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month tightened won the country's first direct presidential elections with more than 51 percent of the vote.

"As far as I see, Davutoglu will take over the post. We will support him," Gul said, answering journalists' questions during a farewell reception in the capital Ankara.

Erdogan will step down as leader of the AK Party when he is inaugurated as head of state on Aug. 28, as required by the constitution; but has made clear that he wants the party he co-founded with Gul more than a decade ago to remain loyal and unified.

Speculation has been growing that Davutoglu, a close Erdogan ally, was being groomed as his replacement. On Tuesday he was dispatched to thank AKP voters for supporting Erdogan's successful presidential bid, seen by many as a sign of his impending promotion.

Some within the ruling party have pushed for Gul, a more conciliatory figure than Erdogan, to take up the premiership. But there have been signs in recent months that the relationship between the two men has cooled, and Davutoglu is seen as a key Erdogan loyalist, sharing many foreign and domestic policy aims.

A formal decision on Erdogan's replacement is expected following an AK Party Congress, due on August 27.

Appointed as the top diplomat of Erdogan's cabinet in May 2009, Davutoglu had also served as Gul's foreign policy advisor both during his ministerial and presidential terms.

Gul said he had no plans to stay in the capital but would move and settle in Istanbul and would then act like other former presidents.

The outgoing president also repeated his previous remarks in which he said he would continue to serve for his cause and the party he had founded.

According to results from August 10 presidential election, Erdogan got 51.79 percent of the vote and was elected to a five-year term as president. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the joint candidate of the two opposition parties, received 38.44 percent of the votes while Selahattin Demirtas, candidate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, won 9.76 percent.

CABINET

Senior AK officials told Reuters that ministers responsible for the economy would remain in place under Davutoglu, and that close Erdogan allies including his top aide Yalcin Akdogan and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan might be given cabinet positions.

Investors have been particularly concerned about the fate of Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacanand Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, who have guided the Turkish economy towards unprecedented stability in recent years.

"The decision will be up to Erdogan and Davutoglu, but in the new cabinet which is expected to be formed at the beginning of September, no changes are expected with Babacan and Simsek or other economic portfolios," one senior AK official said.

Senior officials had told Reuters before the vote that economic ministers would be retained at least until a parliamentary election next June if Erdogan won.

Senior AK officials said intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, one of Erdogan's closest confidantes, and EU minister Mevlut Cavusoglu were being considered as possible replacements for Davutoglu in the role of foreign minister.

Top aide Yalcin Akdogan was also expected to take up a position in cabinet, possibly as a deputy prime minister, while AK deputy chairman Mustafa Sentop is seen as a candidate for justice minister, the officials said.