Erdogan's party to replace Davutoglu

Turkey's ruling party is set to replace Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu following tensions with President Erdogan, sources say.

Ben Ariel ,

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Turkey's ruling party is set to replace Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at an extraordinary congress in the coming weeks, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The move would signal the end of his term as premier and could plunge the country into political uncertainty.

The decision, confirmed to Reuters by five officials in the ruling AK Party, came after a meeting of more than 1-1/2 hours between Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that followed weeks of increasingly public tension between the two men.

"The president and prime minister reached agreement on the congress ... I don't think Davutoglu will be a candidate again," one of the officials told Reuters.

Davutoglu and the AKP won elections in June of 2015, but lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in more than a decade, forcing it to seek a coalition partnership.

After coalition-building efforts with the pro-secular party had collapsed, Davutoglu returned his mandate to Erdogan, who ultimately called for new elections which the AKP overwhelmingly won.

The AKP official told Reuters on Wednesday that the congress in which Davutoglu would step down will be held as soon as May 21 and no later than June 6, and that Erdogan was adamant there should be no vacuum of power at the head of government.

The report noted that Erdogan's drive to tighten his grip on power has caused an increasingly open rift with Davutoglu, encompassing issues from relations with Europe to the pre-trial detention of government critics.

The two have governed in a strained alliance since Erdogan won the presidency in 2014 and Davutoglu replaced him as prime minister.

In the clearest sign yet of a power struggle, noted Reuters, the authority to appoint provincial AKP officials was taken from Davutoglu last week. The move reduced Davutoglu's hold over the party grassroots and cemented Erdogan's influence.