25 December, 2013

Turkey ministers Caglayan and Guler resign amid scandal

Turkey ministers Caglayan and Guler resign amid scandal

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Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Interior Minister Muammer Guler have resigned after their sons were charged amid a corruption inquiry that has hit the government.

Twenty-four people have been charged as part of the investigation, including the head of state-owned Halkbank.

In a statement, Mr Caglayan condemned the inquiry as an "ignoble operation".

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to "break the hands" of rivals who used the inquiry to undermine his rule.

Mr Caglayan's son Kaan and Baris Guler, the interior minister's son, have both denied accusations of involvement in bribery relating to urban development projects and the allocation of construction permits.

In response to the police crackdown, a number of police commissioners have been removed from their posts, including the head of police in Istanbul.

The economy minister, in his statement, said he was stepping down "so that all the light may be laid on this ignoble operation that targets our government". It was obvious the police raids had been a "set-up", he added.
The prime minister (R) addressed supporters at Ankara airport hours before Mr Caglayan (L) resigned

Muammer Guler had earlier argued there were no legal grounds for his son's arrest for bribery as he was not a public official.

Mr Caglayan had just returned to the capital, Ankara, on Tuesday night at the end of a trip to Pakistan with the prime minister. He appeared with Mr Erdogan in front of supporters at Esenboga airport hours before his resignation was announced.

The opposition had demanded that both ministers step down and on Sunday anti-government protesters took to the streets of Istanbul demonstrating against the scandal.

The prime minister came to power in 2002 as head of the AK Party and commentators say the arrest of figures linked to the government and the subsequent police dismissals are part of an internal party feud.

Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, in exile in the US, is seen as a rival to Mr Erdogan, and his Hizmet movement has supporters in the police and judiciary.

Mr Erdogan himself has referred to a "dark plot" by forces outside Turkey


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