Turkey elects Binali Yildirim to prime minister

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Turkey elects Binali Yildirim to prime minister

Turkey’s incoming Prime Minister has said his top priority is to work toward a new constitution that expands the powers of the President. Binali Yildirim’s comments came during a special congress where he was unanimously elected as the ruling AKP’s new party leader.

CCTV’s Natalie Carney joined us from Istanbul.

Follow Natalie Carney on Twitter @NatalieCarney77

Turkey elects Binali Yildirim to prime minister

Turkey elects Binali Yildirim to prime minister

Turkey's incoming Prime Minister has said his top priority is to work toward a new constitution that expands the powers of the President. Binali Yildirim's comments came during a special congress where he was unanimously elected as the ruling AKP's new party leader.

Close to 1,500 delegates voted to appoint Binali Yildirim as the new chairman of Turkey’s ruling AKP. The outcome came as no surprise.

A close ally to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Yildirim was put forward as the AKP’s only candidate earlier in the week and is tipped to champion the president’s policies in parliament, including controversial constitutional changes that will give executive powers to the country’s president.

Unlike his predecessor Ahmet Davutoglu, Yildirim has sworn continued support for military action against Kurdish separatists and sides with the president’s objection to a controversial migrant deal.

“Whether Turkey becomes a member of the European Union or not Turkey will continue to make every legal changes to improve its democracy, human rights and freedoms as it did until today,” Yildirim said.

Yildirim began his political career in 2001, co-founding the AKP with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and two others. He then became the AKP’s minister of transport, maritime affairs and communications.

Known as the “hard hat minister, ” Yildirim has been behind major infrastructure projects including new highways, airports, bridges and tunnels.

Yet, Yildirim’s time in politics is not without controversy. He has been accused of sexism and corruption. Allegations he denies.

Yildirim has previously voiced concern about the intermixing of genders and was one of several politicians named in the 2013 corruption scandal involving member of Erdogan’s cabinet and family.

The opposition sees Davutoglu’s resignations and Yildirim’s appointment as another step towards cementing President Tayyip Erdogan’s hold on government. Turkish political analyst Adil Gur argues those fears are exaggerated.

“If we say the president has chosen someone whom he can control that would be unfair to Binali Yildirim,” Gur said. ”The AK Party has 317 lawmakers. Whoever he chooses among those 317 MPs, none of them have the power and courage to lock horns with the president.”

Yildirim has now been tasked with forming a new cabinet, which could be announced as early as Monday.