The long-serving mayor of Turkey’s capital Ankara has announced his resignation after coming under pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking changes to the image of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) party ahead of the 2019 elections.
Melih Gokcek, who was Ankara’s mayor since 1994, has been an ardent supporter of Erdogan and has defended the government’s large-scale crackdown launched since a failed coup attempt last year.
But Erdogan is seeking changes in major municipalities as part of his plans to revitalize the AK and prepare it for Turkish general elections in 2019.
Gokcek was one of the three mayors resisting resignation calls made by Erdogan.
The president told a news conference in Ankara on October 19 that three mayors from the ruling party had resigned and that three more would have to resign soon, warning that they would face action by the ruling party if they refused to voluntarily step down.
After meeting with Erdogan at the presidential palace, Gokcek said in a tweet on Monday, “God willing, I will convene the greater city municipal council on Saturday, say farewell to council member friends and tender my resignation.”
The mayor of the northwestern city of Bursa, Recep Altepe, also announced his resignation on Monday, leaving Balikesir Mayor Edip Ugur the only one not to have made a statement about a step-down yet.