Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has named incumbent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as its candidate  in the country’s upcoming presidential election.
“By mutual agreement, he is our candidate for the presidency,” Mehmet Ali Sahin, a top member of the AKP, said at a conference in the capital, Ankara, on Tuesday.
Erdogan is widely expected to win the August 10 vote, extending his political leadership to at least 2019.
He is currently serving his third term as prime minister and, under party rules, is not allowed to run for premiership again when his term comes to an end in 2015.
The election in August will be the first time ever that people in Turkey directly elect their president. Previously, the president was chosen by the parliament.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s two main opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have expressed their support for Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu,  the former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to run for president.
Erdogan’s domestic and foreign policies have been harshly criticized, particularly his handling of mass anti-government protests that rocked the country last year and alleged corruption.
The CHP leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has slammed the government’s Middle East policy, saying it was “completely wrong and dragged Turkey into a quagmire and isolated it in the region.”
Turkey is a among staunch supporters of the Syrian opposition fighting against the government of president Bashar Al-Assad.