Muharrem İnce has said he has urged Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to step down and instead become "honorary leader" of the party in a snap convention that would elect İnce as party leader.
Defeated presidential candidate İnce's remarks came after the two politicians met in Ankara on Monday evening to hold a meeting in the aftermath of June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections, in which İnce received 30.6 per cent of the vote and the CHP received 22 per cent. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) received 52.6 and 42.6 of the votes, respectively.
"I told the chairman that he acted like a statesman by nominating [for presidency] someone who ran against him and sending 15 deputies to the Good "İYİ" Party [to secure participation in the elections]; that he has been enshrined in the people's hearts and that it must continue; that I don't want to be in competition with him but the nation has hope and we must not lose this; and offered him that if he wishes to, he can call for an extraordinary congress by himself, and I can be the chairman and he can be the honorary chairman," İnce told reporters.
"He did not say yes or no. I will not collect signatures [for the congress]. If Kılıçdaroğlu rejects my offer, the party organization will solve the problem itself," İnce added, hinting that his grassroots support in the party could start collecting signatures for an extraordinary congress.
Speaking on Tuesday at the parliament, İnce reiterated that he will not run against Kılıçdaroğlu, who beat him twice in congresses in 2014 and 2018.
Party sources say İnce’s supporters are confident about gathering 634 signatures necessary to hold the extraordinary congress, while other CHP members suggest that İnce does not have such grassroots support.
Kılıçdaroğlu responded to İnce’s comments, saying his revealing of the content of their meeting is an example of "political indecency."
Following İnce’s challenge, CHP spokesperson Bülent Tezcan also said the main opposition “doesn’t have an extraordinary meeting on its agenda.”
The party has, however, summoned its Central Executive Board to convene on July 5.