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Turkish Opposition Candidate Vows to Fire General Over Applauding Erdogan

Presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) vowed to sack a general and remove his rank over his enthusiastic applauding of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when the president criticized the CHP candidate at an iftar dinner.

Controversy erupted after Gen. Ismail Metin Temel who led Turkey’s military offensive to take Afrin from the Kurdish militia in northern Syria displayed his endorsement of Erdogan’s castigating remarks against CHP candidate Muharrem Ince.

Former Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek shared a video showing Gen. Temel at a table along with other ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials.

Enraged by the video, Ince pledged to send the general into retirement if he is elected president in June 24 elections.

“For the first time in the history of Republic, a general, during a speech of a political party — a speech in which [the president] does not broach homeland or flag or nation but criticizes me — applauds Erdogan. He will be the first general whom I will have him retired on Aug. 30,” he said.

“Are you a general of the Turkish military, or a provincial branch head of the AKP? Everyone will know his place, everyone will abide by the rules. Everyone will abide by laws, by the constitution,” he added, vowing to remove his titles.

On Sunday, he continued his criticism. The CHP candidate emphasized that the military law prohibits generals and staff members from attending political party meetings. He asked why some noncommissioned officers who welcomed CHP Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu during a visit in Anatolia were sacked by the government decree, but not this general.

His remarks elicited a harsh response from the government.

“Power of Mr. Ince and those who run along with him would not be enough to remove titles of Ismail Temel Pasha. This nation will give them the biggest lesson at the ballot box,” government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday.

Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli also defended the general.

“Mr. Muharrem Ince was about to tear apart shoulder epaulettes of Second Army Commander Gen. Ismail Metin Temel! Mr. Ince, our president is also commander-in-chief. Let me remind you, Gen. Ismail Metin Temel applauds his commander-in-chief.”

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