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Erdogan loyalist elected leader of ruling AK Party

Transport Minister Binali Yildirim is elected as the new leader of the ruling AK Party and therefore the prime minister.

Binali Yildirim

Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim was unanimously elected on Sunday as the new leader of the ruling AK Party and therefore the prime minister.

One of the co-founders of the AK Party along with Erdogan, Yildirim, 60, won all the votes from the 1,405 delegates at an extraordinary party congress.

He was the sole candidate at the congress, which was announced after Ahmet Davutoglu said earlier this month he was stepping down following an increasingly public rift with Erdogan.

Davutoglu had served as foreign minister, but after Erdogan became president and he prime minister, conflict began to emerge and, in recent months, the two men disagreed on several issues, including negotiations with the European Union


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"The problem is the constitution is not clear on where the prime minister and president's power and authority begins and ends," Nurettin Canikli, the head of AKP's parliamentary bloc, said.

Yildirim's journey to leadership

Yildirim served as the director general of the Istanbul Ferries Company (IDO) from 1994 to 2000 while Erdogan was Istanbul's mayor.

In August 2001, he entered politics and was a co-founder of the AKP alongside Erdogan.

After becoming an MP a year later, he was named transport minister before quitting in 2014 because he wanted to run for  mayor of Izmir.

He lost that race to an opposition candidate, Aziz Kocaoglu.

He later served as an adviser to Erdogan, before entering parliament again and returning to his role as transport minister that year.

"Even though they're very good friends, and have the same political background it's still possible for them to have different views on each topic. When they tried to use their authority at the same time, they failed to meet in the middle."

Yildirim has said he will "work in harmony with Erdogan."

"The new chairman won't interpret his authority like Davutoglu did," Canikli said. "He will understand that the president has the ultimate authority and his is the last word."

Government critics said the sudden change in leadership showed the AKP was no longer able to provide political and economic stability and underlined division in its ranks.


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