ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Recip Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in Thursday as Turkey's first directly-elected president.
Formerly the prime minister for over 11 years, Ergodan, 60, is expected to turn the five-year position, designed to be non-partisan and largely ceremonial, into a power base. His political opponents, critical of his authoritarian style as prime minister, claim he is establishing a tighter grip on the country's political process.
In a speech last week -- Erdogan's final address as leader of the AK party, with which by law he is expected to sever ties -- he assigned political ally and presumed next Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu the task of pursuing measures that would broaden Ergodan's power as president.
Members of the opposition CHP party left the floor of Parliament Thursday prior to Erdogan's inauguration, in protest of his consolidation of power and refusal to leave his party, as required by the Constitution.
"From now on, Erdogan will see respect from us depending on his loyalty to the constitution," Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the party CHP, said Thursday. "Tayyip Erdogan knowingly and willingly violated the constitution. He has repeatedly said he is not and he won't be bipartisan."
As prime minister, Ergodan oversaw economic growth in Turkey and $78 billion of foreign investment in Turkish stocks and bonds, but also clamped down on personal freedom, jailing reporters and prosecuting those allegedly attempting to overthrow him. A probe into corruption led to the removal of thousands of police, prosecutors and government officials.
As many as 1,000 Turkish citizens have gone to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State. Turkey has declared IS a terrorist organization and is currently housing over a million refugees from Syria. A direct confrontation with IS could damage Turkey's security and an economy which depends heavily on tourism.