Istanbul (AFP) - Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has strongly backed the naming of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as the new premier and party leader to replace president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a pro-government daily said Saturday.
The executive committee of the AKP is due to meet on Thursday to formally agree the successor to Erdogan, who by law must give up both his current posts as premier and party leader when he becomes president on August 28.
But the Yeni Safak daily, which has close contacts with the AKP, said Erdogan had already put the issue to an informal vote at a closed-door meeting with top party members this week.
After giving a speech, Erdogan asked the party members to put forward their nominees for party leader and prime minister in an anonymous poll.
The results revealed overwhelming support for Davutoglu -- foreign minister since 2009 -- to take over the posts of premier and party leader.
Davutoglu is a loyal Erdogan ally who has developed a more assertive Turkish foreign policy in recent years that has been criticised by opponents as being over ambitious and even neo-Ottoman.
Others who received limited support included former transport minister Binali Yildirim and Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, Yeni Safak added.
The paper said some senior lawmakers had been unwilling to support Davutoglu as they themselves were barred from running owing to an AKP internal rule limiting terms in office to three.
But "Davutoglu has met some of these lawmakers who eventually extended their support to him and now it is almost certain that he will be the new prime minister," it added.
- 'New rules for new Turkey' -
The government is on the brink of a major reshuffle as Erdogan prepares to step down as prime minister and move to the presidency following his victory in August 10 presidential elections.
Erdogan has promised to be a powerful head of state, unlike recent incumbents who have carried out largely ceremonial duties.
He wants to change the constitution to formalise greater powers for the president after 2015 legislative polls but until then is set to use existing powers that have been rarely exercised, such as chairing cabinet meetings.
Turkish media said that at the AKP meeting Erdogan clearly stated for the first time that he would use presidential powers not employed by predecessors.
"I will not act outside the constitution but I will exercise all the powers given by the constitution," the Milliyet daily quoted Erdogan as saying.
Slamming his critics, he said: "They tell me that those powers were not used in the past and they say there are 'established rules'."
But Erdogan said: "Old rules do not bind us. We must establish new rules of a new Turkey."
He also said he would not abandon the AKP and will "control your work, discipline and performance."
"I will keep my eyes on you," he was quoted as saying.