ANKARA: Turkey’s outgoing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was Thursday to be sworn in as president to extend his more than decade-long domination of the country.
Erdogan was due to take his oath of office at 1100 GMT in Ankara and usher in a new era for Turkey, where he is expected to push for a new constitution and seek to further transform the country with development projects.
Taking over Erdogan’s post of prime minister is Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a long standing ally who is expected to do little to challenge the Turkish number one.
Heads of state from a dozen nations in Eastern Europe, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East will attend the ceremony, including Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, the Anatolia news agency reported.
But leaders of top Western states will be conspicuous by their absence in a possible sign of suspicion towards Erdogan, who has been accused of authoritarian tendencies. The United States is only sending its charge d’affaires in Ankara.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, whose country has no diplomatic ties with its giant neighbour, is expected to attend the ceremony.
A man clearly with his eye on history, Erdogan during his five-year presidential term will have ruled Turkey longer than its modern founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who established the republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.
He can serve two mandates and so could stay in power until 2024, which would allow him to see in the 100th anniversary of modern Turkey in 2023 and portray himself as a historic figure rivalling Ataturk.