Turkey’s Foreign Minister has bowed to public and political pressure and withdrawn his candidacy for president. “From now on my nation will decide and I commend myself to them,” Abdullah Gul told reporters. “They will decide when the time comes.”
He acted after failing to secure a quorum in parliament for the second time, even though he is the only candidate. Most of the opposition parties boycotted the vote. The ruling AK Party has now called an early general election for July and is pushing for the president to be elected by popular vote.
Around 50,000 people demonstrated on Saturday in the western city of Manisa insisting that the government must remain secular. There have been numerous protests in recent weeks. The public, though mainly Muslim, is suspicious of the AK party’s former Islamist roots, fearing it wishes to turn Turkey into a fundamentalist state.