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Cablegate: Chp Istanbul Congress: One Injured, No Fatalities

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 001231

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TU
SUBJECT: CHP ISTANBUL CONGRESS: ONE INJURED, NO FATALITIES

REF: 2001 Istanbul 1102


1. (U) Summary: The Republican People's Party's August 3
Istanbul congress showcased a spirited contest between
supporters of party leader Deniz Baykal and opposition
groups within the party. When the votes were counted,
Baykal's candidate, Sinasi Oktem, won easily, but a brawl on
the congress floor highlighted divisions in the party. End
Summary.


-------------
Baykal Speaks
-------------


2. (U) CHP party leader Deniz Baykal won only lukewarm
applause when he entered the hall, a reaction that turned to
sarcastic grins and angry interruptions as many delegates
responded negatively to his speech. Most reactions came
when Baykal claimed the party had ended its fractional
"schisms" and "internal conflicts." A number of delegates
told PolOfficer that the party administration had dismissed
many members and brought in new ones with "arbitrary" and
"unlawful" decisions. Not holding primaries before the
general elections in November was another reason why Baykal
opponents were unhappy with the party.


-------------
Tensions Rise
-------------


3. (U) After Baykal's speech, when party delegates were
given the chance to speak, tensions between the opposition
and Baykal supporters started to rise, reaching a peak when
some of the party officials proposed ending deliberations
early. This caused an uproar and ended in fisticuffs,
leading to one injury.


4. (U) Late in the afternoon, the three candidates for
Istanbul chairman made their speeches. Mehmet Boluk, a
former chairman, and Batur Ilter criticized the party
administration for its "anti-democratic" decisions. Both
candidates complained about the party's "move towards the
right," and demanded a more left-wing message to cull the
votes of the poor. The two candidates' protests were
disputed by the third, Sinasi Oktem, who praised the party's
performance and policies. After his speech, Batur Ilter
announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy, leaving
only the opposition candidate, Mehmet Boluk, and the current
chairman, Sinasi Oktem. The latter was elected with 409
votes.


-------
Comment
-------


5. (U) Although Oktem won the election with an overwhelming
majority, the congress was a clear manifestation of the
divide within the party between pro- and anti-Baykal forces.
Despite a considerable number of members and delegates who
are unhappy with the party's policies and the decisions made
by the party leadership, Baykal seems to have managed to
hang on to control in Istanbul. With a loyalist district
chairman and support from most of the 140 newly-elected
delegates that Istanbul will send to the party's national
congress, Baykal enhanced his prospects for keeping dissent
in check at that event as well.


Arnett

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