Turkey president rules out Russia-style job swap

Gul is tipped as a possible prime minister should Erdogan run in the August presidential election

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Turkish President Abdullah Gul ruled out Friday a Russia-style job swap with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan but said he had no firm plans yet for his political future.

Gul is tipped as a possible prime minister should Erdogan run in the August presidential election, the first time voters will directly elect the country's head of state.

Asked about speculation of a Putin-Medvedev-style job swap, Gul said: “I do not believe that such a formula would be appropriate for a democracy.”

But he added: “I don't have any political plan for the future in today's circumstances.”

Vladimir Putin became president of Russia for a third term in 2012 after a term as prime minister when Dmitry Medvedev served as head of state

Gul and Erdogan co-founded the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) but their close alliance has frayed because of differences over such controversial issues as the Twitter ban and the government's handling of mass street demonstrations.

Nihat Ali Ozcan, an academic from Ankara's TOBB University, said Gul's remarks were quite ambiguous and did not completely rule out a bid for prime minister's post.

“He says that he wants to change the circumstances to see how Erdogan's relationship with the party will evolve after becoming the president,” Ozcan told AFP.

“He may then consider running as the prime minister if he sees an opportunity within a post-Erdogan AKP,” Ozcan said.

After three terms as prime minister, the maximum allowed under AKP rules, Erdogan has set his sights on the presidency if it is given greater US-style executive powers.

Observers say the AKP's resounding victory in last month's local polls despite a damaging graft scandal have boosted his confidence to run for the job.

Erdogan told party lawmakers in Ankara on Friday that his party “has not made a decision regarding the presidency yet”.

“We have started consultations on this important subject. We will meet our delegates next week... and consult with everyone. We will also talk with our president,” Erdogan said.

The presidency has until now been a largely ceremonial role but Erdogan has said he would exercise its full powers if he is elected - which could be a source of conflict between the premier and the president.

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