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Turkish PM Erdogan says he'll run for president

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced his candidacy in next month's presidential election.

The vote on August 10th will give Turkish citizens the chance to directly elect their president for the first time. Until now, the president has been chosen by parliament. The term of incumbent President Abdullah Gul ends in late August.

Erdogan announced his candidacy at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.

Local media say he is the clear frontrunner over a candidate jointly fielded by Turkey's 2 main opposition parties.
Erdogan became prime minister in 2003, and is hugely popular among supporters of the ruling party. They credit him with achieving economic growth while embracing Islamic values.

The Turkish presidency has been a largely symbolic post. Observers speculate that if elected, Erdogan may work to give the position broader powers by stressing his legitimacy as the first directly chosen president. They say he may seek to extend his rule in such a manner.

Critics say Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian. They point to his deployment of security forces to put down anti-government protests and blocking access to Twitter.

Jul. 2, 2014 - Updated 02:15 UTC