Turkey's Gul hints at presidency

July 26, 2007 - 0:0

ANKARA (BBC) - Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul says he has not ruled out reviving his presidential bid, days after his AK Party's landslide election win.

The AK Party won 46% of the vote in an election called amid a deadlock over Gul's earlier presidential bid. Turkey's secular establishment had repeatedly blocked Gul's bid, accusing him of an Islamist agenda. Gul may be trying to gauge his opponents' reaction as he turns up the heat, a BBC correspondent says. The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul says the foreign minister's latest statement may be an attempt to see how Turkey's secular elite and military would react to a revived presidential bid. The AK party did not win enough votes to push through its presidential choice. It would have needed a two-thirds majority in Sunday's election to force its choice for president through parliament. Party leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he was willing to compromise on the presidency but the ultimate decision rested with Gul. On Wednesday, Gul said he remained a possible contender for the presidency. ""Nobody can place a political ban on others. It is out of the question that I should rule myself out as a candidate,"" he said. Referring to expressions of support for him voiced at party rallies in the run-up to the elections, Gul said: ""I cannot ignore the signal from the streets"". However, he did not explicitly say whether he would run for president again. ""There is no need to rush things,"" he said, adding that progress must be made ""with great political maturity in the direction indicated by the results"". ""We have a period of evaluation ahead of us... I believe the other parties in parliament will carefully consider (the significance of) the nearly 50% of the vote that we obtained,"" the AFP news agency quoted him as saying. Gul was first nominated for the presidency earlier this year but his candidacy was attacked by Turkey's secular establishment - in particular, the powerful military and outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. After the failure of repeated attempts to get him elected through parliament, the AK Party called Sunday's election in an effort to ease the deadlock. Secularists view Gul and his AK Party with deep suspicion, citing their origins in a now-banned Islamist movement. But the party denies it has Islamist designs and has won praise abroad for its liberal economic policies and its efforts to steer Turkey towards EU entry