Friday, 29 July 2011

Turkish Generals Resign En Masse

Turkey’s top four generals stepped down today, the first such mass resignation in the country’s history, amid tensions with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over alleged military plots to undermine his government.

Chief of General Staff Isik Kosaner asked to leave because he “deemed it necessary,” the state news agency Anatolia reported from Ankara, citing no one. The chiefs of the army, air force and navy announced their resignations soon after, the NTV news channel reported.

Erdogan, re-elected to a third term in office in June, has reduced the secularist armed forces’ power over Turkish politics since he came to power in 2002. His party was formed after the closure of an Islamist party. More than 40 generals are under arrest after prosecutors alleged that they planned bomb attacks to undermine Erdogan’s administration.

The resignations are “unprecedented” and “the situation is extremely fluid,” Inan Demir, chief economist at Finansbank AS in Istanbul, said in an e-mailed comment. “The balance of power has shifted decidedly in favor of the government over the recent years, which could limit the fallout from the resignations.”

Turkey’s lira currency weakened as much as 1.3 percent to 1.6991 per dollar in Istanbul, heading for its biggest drop in a week. Bond and stock markets were closed.

”Things look chaotic,” Suha Yaygin, deputy chief of emerging markets at Toronto-Dominion Bank in London, said in e- mailed comments. “There’s never been such a thing in the history of Turkey. The lira could fall below 1.70 again.”

Members of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party contacted by telephone declined to comment.

Today’s resignations followed a meeting in Ankara between Kosaner, Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul to discuss promotions of senior military staff, Anatolia said. Erdogan was pushing to force the retirement of the generals and admirals who are jailed as part of the trials, according to a report in Cumhuriyet newspaper on July 5. None of them have been convicted.
Source: Businessweek

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