In the Turkish capital, Ankara, thousands of people have joined the funeral procession of former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who died last Sunday at the age of 81. He had spent almost six months in a coma following a stroke. Some among the crowd showered the hearse bearing his coffin with flowers; others waved Turkish flags, banners or portraits of Ecevit, a political force in Turkish politics for half a century.
A massive security operation is in place. Some 10,000 police officers are on duty for the procession which will include ceremonies at the Turkish parliament and at Ankara’s biggest mosque. But following a change in the law made this week, Ecevit will be laid to rest at the city’s state cemetery, alongside the founders of the republic.
Ecevit was probably best known for ordering Turkish troops into Cyprus in 1974 after a Greek-backed coup. He was also prime minister when the EU accepted Turkey as an accession candidate. But his last years in office were plagued by his own ill-health and Turkey’s ailing economy.