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Turkey's Ruling Party Taps Yildirim as Its Premier Candidate

FILE - Binali Yildirim, Turkey's Transportation Minister and founding member of Turkey’s governing AKP party, participates in a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, May 12, 2016.

Turkey's governing party on Thursday formally tapped Binali Yildirim as its candidate to lead the party and become the country's next premier.

The spokesman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Omer Celik, made the announcement, saying the lawmaker from Izmir was chosen "with great consensus.''

Yildirim is Turkey's minister of transport, maritime and communication as well as a founding member of the AKP. He will run unopposed for the party leadership at a special convention Sunday in Ankara. Traditionally, the post of premier in Turkey goes to the leader of the largest party in parliament.

The shake-up comes after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced May 4 he was stepping down due to differences with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Analysts expect his successor to be more in tune with Erdogan, who is pushing for a constitutional overhaul that would concentrate greater powers in his hands.

Supporters credit Yildirim for his role in developing the president's signature infrastructure projects, which have helped buoy Turkey's economy and boost the party's popularity.

The change in party leadership comes at a time when Turkey, a member of the NATO alliance, is facing multiple security threats including renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the southeast, a wave of suicide bombings linked to Kurdish and Islamic State militants, as well as growing blowback from the war in neighboring Syria.

"I will take this terror trouble off Turkey's agenda,'' vowed Yildirim addressing his party. He also thanked Davutoglu for his services.

The transition also coincides with growing tensions with the European Union over a controversial deal to reduce the flow of illegal migrants from Turkey to Greece,which Davutoglu helped broker.