Ex-ally of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls for reforms to enhance the rule of law and democracy in Turkey.

A former close ally of Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan has formally begun the process to launch a political party, saying Turkey needed a “fresh start” and calling for reforms to strengthen the rule of law and democracy.

In a long-awaited move, Ali Babacan’s supporters on Monday submitted an official request to the interior ministry to establish the new party, whose name will be confirmed at a launch event on Wednesday.

Babacan, 52-year-old former deputy prime minister and founding member of Erdogan’s AK Party that ruled Turkey since 2002, announced last July he was resigning from the AK Party over “deep differences” about its direction.

He served as economy and then foreign minister before becoming deputy prime minister from 2009 to 2015. He was well regarded by foreign investors during his time in charge of the economy.

“The need has emerged for a fresh start in Turkey,” Babacan said in an interview broadcast live on Turkey’s Fox TV.

“Nearly 20 years have passed (since the AK Party was founded) … Turkey has changed and unfortunately the political party of which I was a member began to do things very contrary to its founding principles,” he said.

“There is a powerful need to create a more prosperous and livable Turkey and this is not possible with the current political order,” Babacan added, stressing the importance of democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Turkey criticised

Opposition politicians, human rights groups and the European Union have long accused Erdogan and his party of trampling on basic freedoms, jailing critics, and undermining democracy, especially since a failed 2016 military coup.

In December, another one-time close ally of Erdogan, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, established the Future Party to rival the AK Party.

Turkey’s poor economic performance since a 2018 currency crisis has also eaten into support for Erdogan and his party.

Last week, closely followed pollster Metropoll published a report showing Erdogan’s job approval in Turkey had fallen to 41.1 percent, down from 48 percent around October when a military operation launched in northeast Syria gave the president a boost.

The latest survey was carried out before Turkey ramped up a separate army operation in northwest Syria’s Idlib region.