Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced his resignation from Turkey’s ruling AK Party and says he will launch a new political movement, in the latest challenge to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from his former allies.
“It is our historical responsibility and duty to the nation … to set up a new political movement,” Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara on Friday.
He served as foreign minister between 2009 and 2014 and later as prime minister until 2016 when he was sacked by Erdogan and replaced by Binali Yildrim.
In recent months, Davutoglu has accused the AK Party of deviating from its core principles, hitting out at the government’s economic record and Erdogan himself.
His criticism included the party’s insistence on a rerun of the Istanbul vote after it lost Turkey‘s largest city to the opposition in March local elections, as well as the recent removal of three newly-elected mayors in the east of the country over claims related to “terrorism”.
“I resign from the party where I have served with great honour, worked for years and given much effort to,” Davutoglu said.
His resignation follows the party’s decision earlier this month to send him to its disciplinary board for dismissal.
He described that decision as “very grave” and “not in harmony” with the party’s founding principles.
“Unfortunately this decision on September 2 has passed in history as the day on which the AK Party has renounced its founding values and principles,” he said at the time.
Erdogan has seen an increasing number of defections from former allies in recent months, amid disquiet over the crackdown on political opponents following a failed coup in 2016.
Most notable among the defectors has been former Minister of Economy Ali Babacan, who this week told Turkish newspaper Karar that he would launch his own party by the end of the year.
Babacan was credited with overseeing Turkey’s economic boom in the 2000s, having served as both economy minister and deputy prime minister between 2002, when the party first came to power, and 2015 when he left the government.
Babacan, also a founding AK Party member, resigned from the party in July, citing the need for a “new vision” for Turkey and “deep differences” over policy.