Gambian consul to contest for president of Turkey


Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu is an internationally recognised intellectual who was served as the head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

After weeks of haggling over a name for presidential candidate in the period leading up to the August election, the two parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), agreed on Mr İhsanoğlu as a joint candidate. 

İhsanoğlu assumed the top spot at the Islamic organisation in 2005 after an election, and launched a war against inertia at the organisation which, despite having 55 member states, including oil rich Gulf countries, had not been an influential player in the international politics.


Developing better relations with the Western world formed the core of his two terms in post-9/11 world in which Islam has been at the centre of fierce debates in the Western capitals. Fighting Islamophobia, interfaith dialogue, denouncing violence are among topics that defined his legacy.

Prof Dr Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu is a Turkish academic, diplomat and currently the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the second largest intergovernmental organisation after the United Nations. He is known in particular for his qualities as diplomat, international officer, academician, intellectual, founder and member of academic institutions, author and editor of numerous publications, and advocate of intercultural dialogue.

İhsanoğlu was born to a Turkish family on 26 December 1943 in Cairo, Egypt, where he later studied science at the Ain Shams University, receiving his BSc in 1966. He obtained his MSc in 1970 from Al-Azhar University and his PhD from the Faculty of Science at the Ankara University in 1974. He conducted his post-doctoral research and studies in Exeter University, United Kingdom, 1975-1977. 

In 1970s, Prof Dr Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu took part in Turkey’s various diplomatic and cultural missions and committees formed for conducting international consultations or talks at bilateral and multilateral levels.

İhsanoğlu was appointed ‘Ambassador at Large’ by the first President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Alija Izetbegovic in 1997 in recognition of his services to Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is also serving as ‘Honorary Consul’ of The Gambia since 1990.

He will face Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has been prime minister of Turkey since 2003. Mr Erdoğan is the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, which holds a majority of the seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and won recent by-elections.

Already in his third term as prime minister — the maximum permitted under his own party’s rules — Erdogan has made no secret of his ambition to run for the top job.