Turkey's main opposition parties have defended their decision to nominate a diplomat and academic as their candidate for August’s presidential elections. The Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Monday named Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as their joint nominee.

Speaking at his party group meeting on Tuesday, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that a presidential nominee closely affiliated to a political party could not be impartial. "We want a nominee that is not only respected by Turkey but also whole world,” he said.

Referring to Ihsanoglu’s scientific background, Kilicdaroglu said: "We agreed upon a nominee who has respectability."

MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said that Ihsanoglu had performed well in his role of OIC secretary general. The MHP has previously said they wanted to present a joint candidate with other opposition parties who can "embrace the entire nation".

"Ihsanoglu's election as a president will be a chance for Turkey, since he well knows the Middle Eastern and Islamic countries," said Bahceli.

Ihsanoglu needs 20 MPs to support his candidacy before he can officially stand for the election, scheduled for August 10. The 71-year-old retired from the OIC last year after being elected in 2005. Under his leadership the organization became more involved in humanitarian, social and economic issues.

The vote will be the first time that Turkey's president is elected by direct popular vote.

A candidate needs more than 50 percent of the vote to be elected in the first round. If none of the three expected candidates receives the required percentage, there will be a second round vote on August 24 between the two candidates who received the most votes.

Meanwhile, Kilicdaroglu criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over the kidnappings of Turkish nationals in Iraq.

Militants linked with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) abducted 49 people from the Turkish consulate in Mosul on Wednesday, one day after seizing 31 Turkish lorry drivers.

Kilicardoglu said: "For the first time Turkey's foreign policy becomes miserable." He added that the CHP had already warned the ruling party against dragging Turkey into a Middle Eastern quagmire.

"The area, where the consulate resides, is Turkish territory according to international law. In other words, ISIL attack Turkey," said Bahceli. 

The People's Democracy Party (HDP) co-chairman Ertugrul Kurkcu also criticized the AKP’s “desperation” over the crisis and called for a parliamentary debate on Turkey’s foreign policy.