Bülent Arınç, one of the heavyweights in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has resigned from his post as a member of the Presidential High Advisory Board following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's criticism.
"I have decided to resign from my post over concerns that my remarks would hinder reform efforts since they were taken to different grounds over individuals," Arınç said in a written statement on Nov. 24.
"I submitted my request to resign from my duty and the president accepted it," he said.
Arınç, who is among the founders of the AKP and who assumed a number of high-level posts in the past, caused controversy in AKP ranks last week when he criticized the indictments into prominent human rights activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş.
"Demirtaş might be released. Osman Kavala needs to be released," Arınç said on Nov. 19, adding that pre-trial detentions should be the last resort, while also urging judges not to rule for arrest unless it is an “exceptional” situation.
Despite previous court orders for their release, Demirtaş has been in prison for more than four years while Kavala, a philanthropist accused of helping organize the attempted coup, has been jailed for more than three years.
If convicted, Demirtaş faces up to 142 years in jail on terrorism charges. Kavala, now jailed on espionage charges related to the 2016 failed coup, was earlier acquitted from charges related to the anti-government Gezi Park Protests in 2013.
In response to Arınç, Erdoğan on Nov. 22 accused the AKP heavyweight without naming him personally of trying to cause trouble within the party "via using our emphasis on reforms as an excuse."
A day later, Arınç released another statement, saying that he was “very offended” by Erdoğan's remarks.
“I am an emotional person. Yesterday's speech has offended me a lot. The president made a very harsh speech. There are rumors that I resigned, but for now, this is not true. I would not resign from Twitter or Instagram like others,” Arınç said, in a not-so-veiled reference to former Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who earlier in November announced his resignation on his Instagram account.
Arınç on Nov. 23 also said that he was waiting to meet with Erdoğan to clarify the issue.
“I found out that the president was today in Istanbul. He has a busy schedule, so I could not meet with him today. I think he will be in Ankara tomorrow and I hope that we will be able to meet. I will do whatever is necessary after I meet with him,” he said.
Although he said that he wouldn't announce his resignation from social media, Arınç announced that he was stepping down from Twitter.
"I would like our President and the AKP to know that I will support all kinds of reforms done for the benefit of the people and the country," he said.
Presidential Communications Directorate released a statement shortly after, saying that his resignation was accepted.
Sayın Bülent Arınç, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Yüksek İstişare Kurulu üyeliği görevinden ayrılmayı talep etmiş, sayın Arınç'ın talebi Sayın Cumhurbaşkanımız tarafından kabul edilmiştir.— T.C. İletişim Başkanlığı (@iletisim) November 24, 2020
Kamuoyuna saygıyla duyurulur.
AKP Group Deputy Chair Bülent Turan commented on Arınç's resignation without naming him.
"It's sad that one's biggest service becomes his resignation!" Turan said.
Siyasi görevlerimizi bir gün devredeceğiz. Geride bırakacağımız hoş bir sada en büyük hayalimiz.— Bülent TURAN (@turanbulent) November 24, 2020
Yaptığımız hizmetler kadar, davaya zarar veren, milletin vicdanını yaralayan, değerlerimize aykırı söylemler de akıllarda kalacak.
"En büyük hizmetin istifa" haline gelmesi çok acı!