Ankara, The Gulf Observer: Türkiye main opposition Republican People’s Party [CHP] has elected Ozgur Ozel as its new leader, ending a 13-year term for incumbent Kemal Kilicdaroglu, as the country gears for important local elections in March 2024 according to the Turkish media.
Ozel, 49, has been serving as the party’s deputy parliamentary group chairman since 2015 and has been a lawmaker since 2011.
He announced his candidacy in September after Kilicdaroglu and the CHP were defeated by President Tayyip Erdogan and his governing political alliance in May presidential and general elections.
On Saturday, Ozel received 812 of 1,366 possible votes at a tense, hours-long party congress in Ankara that took two rounds.
“This is the greatest honour of my life,” Ozel said after the results were announced, adding he thanked Kilicdaroglu for his work at the party.
“We are embarking on the road for local election victory,” he added.
“We have believed in turning hopelessness into hope, we are hopeful,” Ozel said, surrounded by applauding party members and standing alongside Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu.
Kilicdaroglu came under fire for refusing to step down as the leader of the CHP after suffering defeat against President Erdogan’s alliance.
“I carried our Great Leader Ataturk’s legacy with honour until today,” Kilicdaroglu said on social messaging platform X after the results and congratulated Ozel.
“And today, with the decision our congress delegates made, I say goodbye to the post of chairman.”
Ozel will now lead the CHP into local elections on March 31, where the party hopes to keep hold of the key municipalities it won in 2019, including the capital, Ankara, the country’s biggest city, Istanbul, and other major cities.