ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's two main opposition parties on Monday named the former head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as their joint candidate to go up against an expected bid by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in the August presidential election.
The main opposition secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said they had agreed on Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who stepped down as secretary-general of the OIC in December, as their nominee.
The election will be the first time Turks have voted directly for their president, who has up to now been elected by parliament. Erdogan has made little secret of his ambition to stand but has yet to formally announce his candidacy.
"This proposal is good for our nation. The MHP is also wishing to unite behind this name and to conclude the presidential election without it turning into a crisis," the head of the MHP, Devlet Bahceli, said in a joint statement with his CHP counterpart, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
"Under today's circumstances, we will be working on this name together," Bahceli said.
Senior officials from Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, have said he will stand in the August election but he has yet to publicly confirm his candidacy.
(Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Jeremy Gaunt)