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ANKARA, Turkey — Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey’s first popularly elected president on Thursday, a position that will keep him in the nation’s driving seat for at least another five years.
Erdogan was scheduled to appoint Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu — his designated successor as prime minster and loyal ally — to form a new government in the evening, following ceremonies at the presidential palace.
Taking the oath in parliament, Erdogan said: “As president I swear on my pride and honor that I will protect the state, its independence, the indivisible unity of the nation ... and that I will abide by the constitution, the rule of law, democracy ... and the principle of the secular republic.”
Later, Erdogan headed to the mausoleum of the nation’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, where he wrote on the visitors’ book: “Today, the day the first president elected by the people takes office, is the day Turkey is born from its ashes and the process of building a new Turkey gains strength.”
Legislators from Turkey’s main opposition party left parliament minutes before Erdogan arrived in protest of the man they accuse of not respecting the country’s constitution. A legislator was seen throwing a copy of the constitution toward the parliament speaker, complaining that he was not allowed to speak.
Erdogan “will pledge allegiance to the constitution but he will lie. I don’t want to witness that lie,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the opposition party’s leader, who snubbed the inauguration ceremony.
Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics for a decade and won Turkey’s first direct presidential elections on Aug. 10. He has indicated he wants to transform the presidency from a largely ceremonial post into a more powerful position and his expected to hold sway in the country’s running. He intends to exercise the full powers of presidency, including powers to call parliament and summon Cabinet meetings.
On Wednesday, Erdogan rejected claims that Davutoglu would merely do his bidding, saying the two would work “hand in hand” in achieving goals he has set for the country.
Erdogan has been a divisive figure. He is adored by supporters after presiding over a decade of relative prosperity. But he is also despised by many for taking an increasing authoritarian tack and is accused of trying to impose his religious and conservative mores on a nation that has secular traditions.