Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan reviews the honour guard during a welcoming ceremony in Ankara on April 17, 2014 for his Malaysian counterpart who is on an official visit to Turkey. (AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN)
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Turkey's ruling party would overwhelmingly back Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's candidacy in the nation's first direct presidential election, senior officials said on Thursday, a move his opponents fear would feed his autocratic instincts.The president has until now been chosen by parliament and played a largely ceremonial role, but Erdogan has said the popular vote will bestow the post with more authority and has vowed to exercise its full powers if elected.A majority of the 300 deputies in Erdogan's AK Party voted in a secret ballot on Wednesday in favour of him running in the August presidential election, party officials told Reuters.Gulen's followers have denied any role in the corruption scandal and have accused Erdogan of a witchhunt.Gul is a close Erdogan ally and co-founder of the party, and is tipped as a possible prime minister should Erdogan run.Erdogan has said the popular vote would confer additional authority on the currently largely ceremonial post, although he ultimately wants an executive presidency for Turkey.
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