A senior advisor to Turkish President Recep Erdogan stepped down on Tuesday after his call for judicial reforms and the release of two high-profile prisoners drew criticism from the ruling party and its far-right ally in parliament.
“It is clear that Turkey needs reforms in judiciary, economy and in other fields,” former Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc wrote in a letter he posted on Twitter.
Prominent Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas and philanthropist Osman Kavala should be released, Arinc told an interview on broadcaster Haberturk last week, criticising their prolonged pre-trial detention.
His remarks, which followed Erdogan’s pledge for reforms, were criticised by ultra-nationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and MHP hold a majority in parliament.
Arinc said he was retiring from his post as a member of the presidency’s High Advisory Board, citing “hateful insults” against him. He did not name any party or individual.
One of the AKP founders, Arinc’s move is the second public sign of resentment from within Erdogan’s close circle in a month.
Earlier this month, Erdogan’s son-in-law and finance minister Berat Albayrak resigned following weeks of depreciation in lira currency.
Over the weekend, Erdogan ruled out the release of Kavala and Demirtas.
He lashed out at reform calls as “instigation,” without naming Arinc.
Demirtas, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been in pre-trial detention since 2016 over alleged terror ties.
Kavala, jailed in Istanbul since 2017, is accused of an attempted coup and espionage.
Rights groups have called for their release.
Edited By: Fatima Sule and Abdullahi Yusuf