ANKARA - Tayyip Erdogan declared his candidacy on Tuesday for a more powerful presidency which rivals fear may entrench authoritarian rule and supporters, especially conservative Muslims, see as the crowning prize in his drive to reshape NATO member Turkey.

Ruling AK Party Deputy Chairman Mehmet Ali Sahin announced the prime minister's widely expected candidacy in the August presidential election to loud applause from party members at a meeting in the capital Ankara.

Erdogan, hugely popular despite a graft scandal he blamed on traitors and terrorists, is likely to win the August vote. In so doing, he would seal his executive powers after 11 years as prime minister that have seen him subdue a secularist judiciary and civil service and tame a powerful military.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger