Erdoğan officially returns to AK Party after constitutional reform referendum

Erdogan's "yes" camp won the referendum with 51.4 per cent of the vote against the "no" votes 48.6 per cent, according to official final results announced last week. However, an article removing a requirement for the president to be neutral and cut ties with their party came into effect immediately, allowing Erdogan to return to the Justice and Development Party in a ceremony on Tuesday.

Erdogan was accompanied by his wife Emine and was sat next to the AKP chairman and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Earlier, party's member Yasin Aktay said that the party's executive committee chose to hold an extraordinary congress on May 21.

If confirmed, it would be the first time that the president will be both party chairman and head of state since the end of the presidency of Ismet Inonu, the successor and right-hand-man of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's modern founder. Erdogan and his supporters argue that a strong presidency will bring stability and more efficient government. The father of four continued to lead the party - he once described it as his fifth child - from behind the scenes.

The previous constitution of the country prohibited any party affiliation for the president, however under the recent constitutional changes the ban is lifted. The new head of the party was elected after the resignation of the then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"I am today returning to my home, my love, my passion", Erdogan said. Erdogan was also seen wiping his eyes with a handkerchief. The change will allow him to lead the party outright.

"Erdogan wants to be master of the party de-jure and not only de-facto so his decisions. on appointments are not questioned", Akgonul added.

There was speculation in the Turkish media about whether Gul would attend the ceremony but Aktay said special invitations had not been made.

  • Leroy Wright