Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) addresses a crowd of supporters from the balcony of the Justice and Development (AKP) Party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, on March 31, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN
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Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan looked a step closer to a presidential bid and to gaining the upper hand in a bitter power struggle on Monday, casting strong local election results as a mandate to hunt down enemies within the state "in their lair".Erdogan has made no secret of his ambition to become Turkey's first directly elected president in an August ballot, but the feud with Gulen, the corruption allegations and street protests last summer had all raised questions over how easily he would secure a majority in the first round.Erdogan, lacking trained personnel loyal to himself, filled government departments with Gulen supporters when he first was elected in 2002 . Gulen, who runs a huge network of schools and businesses, is widely credited with having helped Erdogan break the political power of the armed forces using allies in the police and judiciary.But in recent years friction has grown between the two men and came to a head when Erdogan moved to curb Gulen's influence and close the schools that are a key source of income and influence.
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