Turkey's governing party has selected Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to be its new leader and the country's prime minister, to replace Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he becomes president next week.
Erdogan - who has dominated Turkish politics for over a decade as prime minister - announced the decision after an executive committee meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Thursday.
Turkish media had been abuzz for days with reports that Davutoglu would be selected to serve as prime minister under Erdogan starting August 28.
"I believe our candidate for party leadership and prime minister will realize the ideal of a new Turkey and the AKP's targets for 2023," when modern Turkey celebrates its 100th anniversary, Erdogan said on live TV.
Davutoglu has been a faithful Erdogan supporter and advisor for years. He was named foreign minister in 2009. Fluent in several languages and the product of elite Western education, he is known for shaping Turkey's assertive foreign policy.
At times criticized as neo-Ottoman by some academics, the crux of Davutoglu's policy has been to make Turkey a world power projecting its influence across the region.
However, while Turkey's importance has grown, critics say Davutoglu has also left Ankara isolated in a region surrounded by crisis-torn countries whose problems are spilling over the border.
"One would wish that the office of prime minister is built upon achievements, not failures. Today Davutoglu is a man regarded more with criticism than praise," said Aykan Erdemir, of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
As president, Erdogan is widely expected to wield great influence over his party in the run-up to the 2015 parliamentary polls.
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu told the Turkish daily Zaman on Thursday that the Islamic Republic was heading to a "new era of puppet prime ministers."
Erdogan said in his television address on Thursday that the new government's highest priority would be to "forge a new constitution."
glb/sb (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)
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