The 89th anniversary of the Republic Day marked symbolic firsts, with First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül joining her husband President Abdullah Gül in saluting the military parade for the first time since Gül took office in 2007.

President Gül and his wife were seen saluting the military parade alongside top government and military officials as well as opposition leaders. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chairpersons did not attend the official celebration in protest of the ongoing hunger strike. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), joined the day’s celebrations but did not attend the reception, while Devlet Bahçeli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was present at events throughout the day.

The state’s celebration of Republic Day began

early in Anıtkabir as Gül laid a wreath on Ataürk’s mausoleum and signed the Special Book. “We are proud to be a country that has achieved a number of comprehensive transformations in all areas, matured its democracy, fortified its economy, progressed in terms of human rights and freedoms and is continuing the necessary constructive reforms regarding them,” Gül wrote in the book.

After the ceremony at Anıtkabir, Gül received congratulations at the Çankaya Palace for the first time since taking office. State officials, opposition leaders, ambassadors and other high-ranking officials were present at the ceremony.

Following his visit to Çankaya Palace, the president saluted and watched the military parade at the Hippodrome with his wife. The final event of the Republic Day celebrations was the presidential reception.

Gül hosted senior government and military officials and their spouses for the first time since taking office. Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and army commanders were expected to be present at the reception with their wives. Gül was extending single invitations to the state officials as the earlier army echelon refused to join the reception in response to Hayrünnisa Gül wearing a headscarf.

Source Hürrıyet

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