Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday (March 4) said that his ruling AK Party and its ally will continue on their planned course. His words came after the split in the opposition bloc over the issue of who should run to challenge him in national elections. The national elections are scheduled for May. 

“We’ve said this was going to happen months ago…We have already set our goal…Whatever they do, we continue to work on our plan, on our road map,” state-owned TRT Haber reported Erdogan as saying.

The public split on Friday in an alliance of opposition parties followed months of simmering discord in the group, and was seen by analysts as a blow to opposition hopes of unseating Erdogan, who has been in power for two decades.

Earlier this week, Erdogan said that the elections would go ahead on May 14. The date was announced depite criticism of his government’s handling of devastating earthquakes that took place last month. More than 45,000 people had lost lives in the country.

Meral Aksener, leader of the centre-right nationalist IYI Party, the second biggest in the alliance, announced on Friday the party was leaving the bloc.

She said that at a presidential candidate selection meeting this week, five parties in the alliance proposed Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), as their candidate.

Aksener accused members of the alliance of pressuring her party and defying people’s will, adding that she proposed Mansur Yavas and Ekrem Imamoglu, CHP mayors of capital Ankara and Istanbul respectively, as candidates.

(With inputs from agencies)

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