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Turkey's Main Opposition to Boycott Presidential Vote

Turkey's main opposition party says it will boycott the country's presidential vote, because of the nomination of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

The secular Republican People's Party made the announcement Tuesday, hours after Gul publicly confirmed his candidacy and sought support from opposition leaders.

He also Tuesday promised to uphold and strengthen the country's secular principles if elected. Secular politicians and the military had opposed Gul's previous nomination because of his Islamist past.

Gul met Tuesday with leaders of the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). He did not say whether the MHP assured him of support.

Members of the ruling AKP re-nominated Gul to be their presidential candidate Monday, three months after an opposition boycott forced him to withdraw his nomination.

The parliament begins the first of several rounds of voting for president Monday.

The opposition to Gul's candidacy prompted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call early parliamentary elections last month. The ruling party won a majority in those elections.

But the AKP does not have the two-thirds majority needed to approve a presidential candidate on its own during the first two rounds of voting. The president can be elected by a simple majority in the third round of voting, but only if two-thirds of parliament members are present, giving opposition factions the ability to derail a nomination through a boycott.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.