Turkey's Gul Says He Won't Run Against Erdogan in June Election

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s former president Abdullah Gul said he won’t be a candidate in snap presidential elections to be held in June, putting to rest speculation that he could harm incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chances.

A broad-based consensus among political parties was not reached, Gul told reporters in Istanbul. That was a pre-condition he had set to the pro-Islamic Saadet Party’s request that he run as an opposition candidate in presidential elections on June 24, he said.

Speculation had been growing that Gul, who co-founded the Islamist-rooted AK-Party party with Erdogan in 2001, would challenge him in the elections. Gul has been critical of Erdogan’s clampdown on dissent after a failed 2016 military coup and has come under pressure from the governing party to rule himself out of the race.

“My only hope is that this election period in Turkey doesn’t lead to more polarization and division,” Gul said, as he criticized fellow AK Party members for speaking against him amid rumors of his candidacy. Gul said that economic concerns in the country have reached “serious levels,” and that politics have been taken hostage by insults and rhetoric.

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