Bolu mayor starts his march to CHP headquarters, demands change

Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan has started his march to the main opposition CHP headquarters in the capital Ankara in a move to demand “justice and change” in the party. Known for his criticisms against party leader Kılıçdaroğlu, the CHP previously referred Özcan to the High Disciplinary Board for his expulsion from the party.

Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan, from the CHP, holds a banner reading "Change" in his march to the party headquarters on July 3 (DHA)

Duvar English

Bolu Mayor Tanjur Özcan, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on July 3 started his march to the CHP headquarters in the capital Ankara, demanding “justice and change” in his party. 

The move came after the CHP referred Özcan to the High Disciplinary Board for his expulsion from the party, who is known for his harsh criticism against party leader Kılıçdaroğlu. Özcan raised his voice in criticism against Kılıçdaroğlu especially after the latter lost the presidential election to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the second round of the race on May 28.

While the police teams took extensive security measures during the march, marchers gave a break every five kilometers due to the hot weather. Özcan will walk approximately 200 kilometers from Bolu province to the capital Ankara.

On July 2, Özcan said the only way he would cancel the march was Kılıçdaroğlu announcing he will not be a candidate for the party leadership again. 

CHP Spokesperson Faik Öztrak on July 3 said in a press conference held in the party headquarters that Özcan “should solve Bolu's problems instead of wasting time walking.”

“Mayors should solve the problems of their own provinces and districts. If Tanju Özcan had walked by saying 'the government had hindered him'; he was more than welcome. His claims are not rational. There is a well-known saying; ‘roads are not eroded by walking.’ Bolu province has so many problems,” Öztrak added.

Replying to Öztrak, Özcan said he is one of the five most successful mayors of Turkey.

“When asked ‘What is the biggest problem of Bolu?' in surveys, people say 'no problem'. We live in the cleanest city in Turkey. Faik Öztrak is unaware of all this, he does not come out of his ivory towers. He is also a man who later became a CHP member. He was a bureaucrat, then became a deputy, and gained a seat rapidly in the CHP board. You and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu lost the election. You demoralized the youth. You have darkened the future of the country. You still insist on staying there. You shamelessly react to those who want change. You still seek to dismiss organizations (who want change),” Özcan said during the march.

Last year in September, CHP High Disciplinary Board terminated the membership of Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan for one year.

Özcan is also known for his anti-refugee discourse, introducing a series of xenophobic measures in the province.

The CHP is expected to hold its general convention later this year as Kılıçdaroğlu has yet shown no intention to resign.

After the presidential and parliamentary election losses, there is an increasing voice within the CHP demanding change. CHP Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on various occasions stated that radical change is needed within the party..

Kılıçdaroğlu has been the leader of the CHP since 2010.