UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM BAHCELI
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will hold its extraordinary congress on July 10 in capital Ankara, weeks after dissident party members were barred from organizing such an event, the party chairman announced Wednesday.
In a written statement, Devlet Bahceli said: "Our party will hold an extraordinary congress along with an election on July 10, 2016, Sunday, at the Ankara Arena Sports Hall."
Bahceli also made it clear that he will remain in the race for the top slot. "Whoever declares to run for the MHP chair, he or she will have to compete with me," he said.
"As I declared before, the real struggle for the MHP starts from now on. When our party will pass this upcoming democratic test, we will be out of this mess and continue to stand strong on its path," he added.
The MHP leader also criticized the Turkish government for "trying to change the system during tumultuous times of Turkey," which continues to face terrorist attacks.
He said the "privileged regime" in Turkey was "not worried about Turkey's massive security weakness."
Dissident MHP members seek to appoint a new party head at their extraordinary congress, an aspiration for which they faced severe resistance.
The legal wrangling began this January 2016 when a group of dissident MHP members applied to party headquarters to convene an extraordinary congress. Frustrated by the lack of a positive response, in February they filed a case with the 12th Ankara Civil Court of Peace.
The court decided in April to appoint trustees to the party and send them to a congress, as the dissidents had gathered 531 signatures out of 1,232 party delegates.
Party authorities appealed the verdict but two Ankara courts, Ankara's 15th Enforcement Directorate and Ankara’s 2nd Enforcement Court, gave conflicting rulings on May 13, just days before the congress was due to be held.
Also, on May 15, based on earlier court rulings, Turkish police prevented dissident party members from holding an extraordinary congress in Ankara.
Eventually on Tuesday, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld an Ankara civil court decision to green light the congress.