ANKARA: Turkish President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday rejected claims that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is set to replace him as prime minister, would merely do his bidding as he continues to rule Turkey from behind the scenes.
His comments during a farewell speech to delegates of his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, come amid widespread expectations that Davutoglu would take more of a backseat role and that Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for over a decade, would maintain his grip on government.
Although the office of president is mainly ceremonial, Erdogan has indicated he wants to transform the position to an executive one. He has said he will activate its seldom-used powers, such as summoning, and presiding over Cabinet meetings.
"The AKP is not a one-man party, it never has been and never will be," Erdogan told party delegates who convened to confirm Davutoglu, 55, as its new chairman and prime minister-designate.
Erdogan nevertheless, suggested that Davutoglu would not veer from the goals he has set for Turkey, saying "the only things that are changing today are the names."
Davutoglu said Erdogan's "legacy is our honor and will be protected until the end."
"The elected president and the elected prime minister will hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder build a new Turkey," he added.
Erdogan is to be sworn in Thursday. The former foreign minister will be asked to form the new government immediately after and the new Cabinet will be established by Friday, Erdogan said.
Davutoglu has won praise for his efforts to forge closer ties with Turkey's old foes in his early years steering foreign policy. However, detractors say his "zero problems with neighbors" policy has since failed, leaving Turkey with very few allies in the Middle East.
Davutoglu Wednesday vowed to press ahead with peace efforts to end a 30-year Kurdish insurgency and spoke of a need for a more democratic constitution.