At the meeting of the government’s High Advisory Board (YİK) last month, AKP co-founder and former deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç was seated next to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. However, at the latest meeting of YİK on Nov. 5, Arınç was seated several spots away from the president, according to local news reports on Wednesday.
Seated closer to Erdoğan was former Prime Minister Yıldırım Akbulut and prominent AKP figure Ismail Kahraman.
Arınç was seated right next to Erdoğan at YİK’s previous meeting on Oct. 2.
Though despite being a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Arınç has periodically voiced his criticism of the party over the past several years.
In September, Arınç criticized the removal of Mardin district mayor Ahmet Türk of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), who was stripped of his post as mayor of the southeastern district of Mardin in 2016 and subsequently arrested on terror charges. Türk was later released, and elected again as Mardin’s mayor in the local elections this year, though the veteran politician was again booted from his post in August of this year, again related to terror charges.
Arınç had said that he knew and respected Türk, and that the politician had nothing to do with terror and was in favor of peace, referencing the long-standing conflict between the banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Turkish state security forces.
Arınç also recently criticized the widespread removal of the posts of thousands of state employees via an official government decree following the failed military coup on July 2016. According to sources, Arınç was reportedly angry at being seated further away from the president at the latest YİK meeting.