Turkey ruling party strongly backs Davutoglu as new PM

Loyal Erdogan ally

ISTANBUL - Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has strongly backed the naming of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as the new premier and party leader to replace president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a pro-government daily said on Saturday.
The executive committee of the AKP is due to meet on Thursday to formally agree the successor to Erdogan, who by law must give up both his current posts as premier and party leader when he becomes president on August 28.
But the Yeni Safak daily, which has close contacts with the AKP, said Erdogan had already put the issue to an informal vote at a closed-door meeting with top party members this week.
After giving a speech, Erdogan asked the party members to put the name of who they would like to see as party leader and prime minister in an envelope.
The results showed that there was overwhelming support for Davutoglu -- foreign minister since 2009 -- to take over the posts of premier and party leader.
Davutoglu is a loyal Erdogan ally who has developed a more assertive Turkish foreign policy in recent years that has been criticised by opponents as being over ambitious and even neo-Ottoman.
Other names who received limited support included former transport minister Binali Yildirim and Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, Yeni Safak added.
The paper said some senior lawmakers had been unwilling to support Davutoglu as they themselves were barred from running owing to an AKP internal rule that proscribes more than three terms in office.
But "Davutoglu has met some of these lawmakers who eventually extended their support to him and now it is almost certain that he will be the new prime minister," it added.
The government is on the brink of a major reshuffle as Erdogan prepares to step down as prime minister and move to the presidency following his victory in August 10 presidential elections.