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Cabinet Reshuffle Sees 10 New Names Amid Graft Inquiry

posted 26 Dec 2013, 16:21 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 26 Dec 2013, 16:22 ]

Reacting to a graft scandal that led to the resignation of three ministers, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan replaces half of his ministers as the main opposition party accuses him of running a secretive "deep state"

ANKARATURKEY (DECEMBER 26, 2013) (REUTERS) - Ten new ministers entered the Turkish government on Thursday (December 26), a day after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reshuffled his cabinet over a spiralling corruption scandal that has pitted the ruling AK Party government against the judiciary

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The new ministers took over during handover ceremonies in their respective ministries.

Among 10 new loyalist ministers Erdogan named late on Wednesday was Efkan Ala, a former governor of the restive Diyarbakir province who will now wield the powerful Interior portfolio and oversee Turkish domestic security.

Ala replaces Muammer Guler, one of three cabinet members who resigned after their sons were detained in a graft probe that erupted on Dec. 17. Guler, who like Erdogan had called the case baseless and a plot, sacked or reassigned dozens of police officers involved including the chief of the force in Istanbul.

Guler, outgoing Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and outgoing Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar all denied any wrongdoing by their sons or the government.

"Everything will become clear. This is a step taken against our government. This is a step taken against the most brave Prime Minister that has ever taken the helm. We will survive this and we will be even stronger," outgoing Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said.

"I have pointed out that this operation is blackmail and not a legal probe, just look at how this process has been implemented, and how none of the rules required in the proceeding were complied with," Guler said.

One of the three ministers who resigned, Bayraktar, urged Erdogan to follow suit.

The Turkish leader, in power for 11 years and facing local elections in March and a national ballot in 2015, was unmoved. Vowing no tolerance for corruption, he said on Wednesday (December 25) the graft investigation was tainted by foreign interests.

Turkey's opposition accused Erdogan of trying to rule via a secretive "deep state" after a cabinet reshuffle that would tighten controls on police already beleaguered by government-ordered purges.

"He (Erdogan) is trying to put together a cabinet that will not show any opposition to him. In this context,Efkan Ala has a key role," Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the biggest opposition party CHP, said in remarks carried by Turkish media.

"Erdogan has a deep state, (his) AK Party has a deep state and Efkan Ala is one of the elements of that deep state," added Kilicdaroglu, using a term that for Turks denotes a shadowy power structure unhindered by democratic checks and balances.

During his three terms in office, the Islamist-rooted Erdogan has transformed Turkey, cutting back its once-dominant secularist military and overseeing rapid economic expansion. He weathered unprecedented anti-government protests that swept major cities in mid-2013.

But the corruption scandal has drawn an EU call for the independence of Turkey's judiciary to be safeguarded and has rattled stocks and the lira, with the currency falling to a historical low of 2.1025 against the dollar on Monday.