The ruling AK Party (AKP)’s Bahcelievler district municipality in Istanbul has closed off a building where Turkey’s former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had rented space to be used as his new party’s office in the city, Sozcu daily reported on Tuesday.
The ex-PM’s plan to establish a rival party to challenge Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP was revealed after he resigned from the party in September.
Davutoglu’s resignation, which was followed by many AKP deputies and branch executives working with him, came after the party’s management made it clear it wanted him out due to his public criticism of the 18-year-old political formation.
Expected to announce his new party in November, Davutoglu reportedly rented a story in a building in Istanbul’s Bahcelievler district and planned to use it as his party’s office.
According to a report by Ozlem Guvemli from Sozcu, however, the building that involves the rented office was on October 15 sealed off by the AKP-run Bahcelievler municipality over allegations that illegal renovations were being carried out inside.
The ex-PM reportedly gave up on the 1,700 square-meter office after the incident and started searching for another place to serve as the party’s Istanbul headquarters.
Nadir Ataman, a member of the Istanbul City Council from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) told Sozcu the Bahcelievler municipality’s move was an “obstacle against democracy.”
Ataman pointed out that there would be few buildings left in the district as many more could be sealed off for the same reason in the event that they are inspected.
Ataman underlined that the municipality’s recent move to close off the building was on purpose.
“I wonder who put pressure on them [to do it]. They have used the same method against CHP and [nationalist opposition] IYI Party [IP] before, canceling our rental contracts with some offices and buildings,” he said, referring to the AKP government.
“This is a terrible example of democracy [in Turkey]. Sending tax officers and municipal police when you’re mad at someone… Is this the state of things now?” Ataman questioned.
Davutoglu became a vocal critic of Erdogan and his governing AKP after the party lost in a number of Turkey’s largest cities in March’s local election, experiencing its biggest setback since coming to power in 2002.
Posting a long manifesto on his Facebook account on April 22, the former PM openly criticized the AKP’s economic policies, media restrictions and the damage he said it had done to the separation of powers and to Turkey’s institutions.