President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged provincial and district governors to file criminal complaints against main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for calling them "militants," in yet another effort to influence the judiciary.
"Just like our Interior Minister said, this country has a judiciary. The time has come for those who were subjected to this individual's insults to sue him," Erdoğan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a weekly parliamentary group meeting on Jan. 27.
"Everyone should sue him. This country is not abandoned. What's necessary should be done," he added.
The row over the word "militant" began when former CHP deputy Berhan Şimşek deemed the governors "militants" in a TV show last week.
“Governors are militants, district governors are militants, judges are militants. We are seeing the decisions that are taken,” Şimşek said on Habertürk TV to criticize the government.
His remarks were immediately met with backlash from the AKP, with the Interior Ministry filing a criminal complaint against Şimşek on Jan. 23 for "insulting and slandering the Turkish nation and the Turkish Republic."
Kılıçdaroğlu on Jan. 26 defended Şimşek and called on AKP members to sue him.
"The Interior Ministry sends a notice to all governor's offices, telling them to file lawsuits. If you do not file a lawsuit, you are despicable. You are all militants. You are the militants of corruption and immorality,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
A day later, Erdoğan claimed that Kılıçdaroğlu perceives everyone who doesn't vote for the CHP, which amounts to 75 percent of the population, as militants.
"According to this understanding, those who don't vote for the CHP doesn't have the right to have dignity and honor. They also accuse those that they call militants of being dishonored," Erdoğan said.
'You will wait for 2023 for elections if you have patience'
Turning to the debates on early elections, Erdoğan said that the opposition must wait until June 2023, which is the planned election date.
"They're talking about early elections. You will wait until June 2023 if you have the patience. We have a lot of work to be done still," he said.
According to Erdoğan, the opposition will not win the elections in 2023.
"The people won't hand the government to an opposition whose sole aim is to topple Tayyip Erdoğan," he said.