Former Erdogan ally resigns, hints at rival political party
A former Turkish deputy prime minister and key figure in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party has resigned, signalling plans to form a rival political party.
Ali Babacan, who had also served as economy and foreign affairs minister in various Erdogan governments, on Monday announced his resignation from the ruling Justice and Development Party, citing deep differences "in principles, values and ideas."
The markets viewed the popular liberal politician as a guarantee of sensible economic policies during his time as economy minister between 2002 and 2007.
Babacan was rumoured to have been planning to form a splinter party along with former President Abdullah Gul and others said to be disgruntled with Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule.
Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is also reported to be planning to establish a separate party.
Babacan said: "The need to start a new effort for Turkey's present and future has become inevitable."
His official page on the AKP website as a "founding member" was no longer available.
Abdulkadir Selvi, a pro-government columnist in the Hurriyet daily, wrote last week that Babacan met Erdogan on May 30 with the intention to resign but decided against quitting the party so close to the Istanbul mayoral election of June 23.
Selvi said Babacan told the president he was planning to resign and admitted he was setting up a party.
The AKP lost a re-run vote in the country's biggest city last month by more than 800,000 votes after an initial defeat on March 31.
Agencies contributed to this report.
Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab