Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu criticized on Tuesday a verbal brawl between Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and Ankara mayor Melih Gökçek which has fueled a debate over growing tension within the highest levels of government, just ahead of the June election.

“No matter whoever he is, anyone, who may relish a joust by discrediting our party in the eyes of large masses during its election campaign, would be referred to the disciplinary board for us to take disciplinary actions,” said Davutoğlu, speaking during the inaugurations of the Firing Range, run by the Defense Ministry, in Konya, the central Turkey.

“Both statements, which were made yesterday, are completely wrong in respect to our common political cultural and our party’s discipline rules.”

Davutoğlu said that he met in person and spoke with Arınç after the deputy prime minister held a press conference following a Cabinet meeting on Monday, March 23. “I will be meeting with Melih Gökçek today. I have given necessary warning so far and will continue to do so”

Davutoğlu also emphasized that he ordered the party’s deputy chair to open a disciplinary proceeding, if there are any attempts to be involved in a skirmish discrediting our party, in such a critical period during which the elections are heating up.

“Nobody has a privileged position. Regardless of whoever he is, anyone, who attempts to relish a joust by discrediting our party in the eyes of large masses during the election campaign, will be referred to the disciplinary board for the necessary disciplinary actions to be taken.”

The political tension that surfaced on Monday has sent shockwaves to the heart of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AK Party, just three months before the parliamentary elections in June.

Arınç’s remarks comes hours after Ankara mayor called on the prime minister to discharge him for sparring with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over his recent criticism on the ongoing peace process with the Kurds.

Gökçek accused Arınç, one of the founders of the AK Party, of serving an illicit network, headed by U.S.-based cleric Gulen, a former ally of Erdoğan.

At a press conference he held late Monday, March 23, following a Cabinet meeting, Arınç described the mayor’s remarks on Twitter for himself as shameless. “Gökçek is not as honorable a person that can demand my resignation,” he said.

Yeni Şafak