Turkey’s former prime minister Bulent Ecevit has been laid to rest after a massive funeral procession through the Turkish capital, Ankara. The 81-year-old died last Sunday after spending almost six months in a coma following a stroke. Led by his wife, the huge funeral cortege made its way through the city for ceremonies at parliament and Ankara’s biggest mosque.
But after a change in the law this week, the staunchly secular leader was buried at the capital’s state cemetery, alongside the founders of the republic. The funeral, moved from Wednesday to allow more people to take part, brought thousands onto the streets.
Some showered the hearse bearing his coffin with flowers while others waved Turkish flags, banners or portraits of Ecevit – a political force in Turkish politics for half a century. Some also booed the arrival of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose party has its roots in political Islam.
Ecevit was probably best known for ordering Turkish troops into Cyprus in 1974 after a coup backed by Greece. 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.