By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - A leading lawmaker of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) announced on Monday his candidacy for the party chairmanship.
Speaking at a news conference in the parliament in capital Ankara, Muharrem Ince, lawmaker from Yalova province, said: "In CHP, you cannot be a candidate, but you can be a nominee.
“I am not a presumptive nominee, because I have adequate signatures. I am saying that I have been nominated."
He was referring to the upcoming congress expected to be held on Feb. 3.
"This congress is not the congress for the running of Kemal Kilicdaroglu or Muharrem Ince or other nominees, but the congress of regenerating our future," he said.
Ince, a former deputy group chairman of the party, ran for the chairmanship against Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the 2014 congress of the party.
In the 2014 congress, 740 delegates had voted for Kilicdaroglu while Muharrem Ince received the backing of 415 delegates.
Kilicdaroglu has been leading the party since the 33rd Ordinary Congress of the party held on May 22, 2010.
Ince said the result of the congress will not only be a concern to Turkey, "but also its neighbors, and the European Union.
- Support for Afrin operation
"The CHP has the richness of thinking and heritage of action for solving huge issues."
He voiced support for Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch launched on Saturday to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Syria's Afrin region.
"Turkey must fight against every terror attack from inside and outside," he said, adding Operation Olive Branch has the same aim as Operation Euphrates Shield.
Operation Euphrates Shield began in August 2016 and ended in late March 2017 to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border.
"Our army is in a legitimate fight for providing us with security.
"If the mortar attacks were carried out from Syrian territories to Turkish territories, and if the terrorists have infiltrated to our territories, Turkey has right to self-defense, and this right complies with international law."
Operation Olive Branch was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, the Turkish General Staff has said.
The military also said only terrorist targets were being destroyed and "utmost importance" was being given to not harm any civilian.
The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.