ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday approved a new government formed by one of his most trusted allies, who has pledged to push through constitutional reforms that would expand the powers of the presidency.
Erdogan took a break from hosting a summit meeting in Istanbul to approve a Cabinet list presented by Binali Yildirim, who replaces the outgoing prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.
Erdogan tapped Yildirim, 60, to form a new government on Sunday after Davutoglu stepped down amid a range of differences with the president, including Davutoglu’s apparent less-than-enthusiastic stance toward an overhaul of the constitution to give the largely ceremonial presidency executive powers.
Soon after his nomination, Yildirim vowed to follow Erdogan’s path and transition Turkey into a presidential system.
Many fear the presidential system that Erdogan seeks will concentrate too many powers in the hands of the Turkish strongman, who has adopted an increasing authoritarian style of governing and has crackdown on media and government critics.
Domestically, the political reshuffling takes place as Turkey faces serious security threats, including increased attacks by Kurdish and Islamic State militants. It is also comes at a time when parliament is in disarray after a government-backed constitutional amendment has left 138 lawmakers vulnerable to prosecution.
Internationally, Turkey is traversing a delicate moment in its relations with the European Union. The implementation of a Turkey-EU deal to help stem the influx of migrants to Europe — which Davutoglu had helped negotiate — has repeatedly come into question.
Erdogan has warned that the migrant deal could collapse if the Europeans renege on their pledges to grant Turkish citizens the right to visa-free travel. The EU says Ankara must meet all of the EU’s conditions to secure visa-free travel, including narrowing the definition of “terrorist” — which Erdogan says is out of the question.
Yildirim has served as transport and communications minister since 2002 with a short interruption in 2015. The engineering-trained politician who is a founding member of the ruling party, has been credited for his role in developing major infrastructure projects which have helped buoy Turkey’s economy and boost the party’s popularity.
Critics, including the leader of the main opposition party, have accused him of corruption — an accusation Yildirim rejects.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.