Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing members of the Parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara May 27, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/Adem Altan)
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Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his candidacy Tuesday for a more powerful presidency which rivals fear may entrench authoritarian rule and supporters, especially conservative Muslims, see as the crowning prize in his drive to reshape NATO member Turkey.Supporters of his ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party cheered, clapped and sang pro-Erdogan songs after deputy chairman Mehmet Ali Sahin announced the prime minister's widely expected candidacy in the August presidential election.Erdogan, 60, presents himself as champion of a conservative religious population treated for generations as second class citizens.The presidency Erdogan would assume if elected would, in theory, differ little from the largely ceremonial post occupied by incumbent Abdullah Gul.The candidates' list for the election testifies to dramatic change wrought in Turkey by his premiership, an old secularist elite yielding to two men of Islamist pedigree and a third from a long-suppressed Kurdish minority.Erdogan's chief adviser Yalcin Akdogan played down fears of him usurping powers the post does not have.
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