Turkey PM, opposition chief hold crunch coalition talks

ANKARA: Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday met the main opposition leader for decisive talks that will likely determine if the country forges a coalition government or heads to snap polls.

Turkey has been without a full time government since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its overall majority in June 7 legislative elections for the first time since taking power in 2002.

The political impasse comes as Ankara wages one of its biggest security operations in years — a cross-border offensive against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, and an offensive targeting Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey.

AKP leader Davutoglu and Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Ankara began meeting at around 1100 GMT for what is seen as a final chance to agree a coalition.

“Whether Turkey will have a coalition or not will be probably seen today after the meeting,” said Ozgur Altug, chief economist at BCG Partners in Istanbul.

While an initial round of talks began warmly, opposition politicians and commentators have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of meddling in the process in order to trigger early elections.

Turkish press reports on Thursday said Kilicdaroglu had warned his party in a closed-door meeting that while Davutoglu was positive on a coalition “there are walls he is struggling to overcome”, in reference to Erdogan.

The results of the June 7 elections were one of the biggest blows yet to the combative Erdogan and torpedoed his dream of parliament agreeing a new presidential system for Turkey.

On Wednesday, Erdogan indicated that he would not be bothered by the failure of the coalition talks, saying their collapse would not be a reason for a party leader to “commit suicide”.

Source: AFP