ANKARA (AFP) -Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will on Monday chair a cabinet meeting for the first time as head of state, in a move seen by the opposition as a sign of his increasingly authoritarian rule.
Erdogan, who took the presidency in August elections after over a decade as premier, will chair the cabinet meeting from 11am (900 GMT) at his own hugely controversial presidential palace on the outskirts of Ankara.
The Turkish president has the right under the constitution to chair cabinet meetings, which are usually overseen by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
However Erdogan’s two predecessors in the presidential job – Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Abdullah Gul – performed largely ceremonial roles and never chaired a government meeting.
The last president to do so was Suleyman Demirel, who served as head of state from 1993-2000. Erdogan will just be the sixth Turkish president in the history of the modern republic founded in 1923 to chair a cabinet meeting.
Erdogan transformed Turkey in over a decade as prime minister from 2003 to 2014, winning plaudits for speeding up development and growth but also facing accusations of imposing a creeping Islamisation and authoritarianism on the country’s secular democracy.
The August elections were the first time a Turkish president has been directly elected by the people and Erdogan insisted he now has a popular mandate to be an active and powerful leader.