Turkey appears to be on course to elect its foreign minister – the former Islamist Abdullah Gul – as President. In today’s third round of voting in parliament, he needs just a simple majority among MPs to take his position as head of state. Gul has denied opposition claims that he has a secret Islamist agenda, and has promised to be a leader of all Turks.
Journalist, Murat Yetkin said: “If he keeps these promises, especially on the secular, democratic nature of the Turkish republic, I believe that there should be no tension.”
But Turkey’s military – which sees itself as protector of the country’s secular status – is not happy. The armed forces leader has warned of ‘centres of evil’ seeking to undermine the secular republic – words taken by some commentators as a warning that the army would not stand on the sidelines were the separation between religion and state to become blurred.
Turkey’s generals are alarmed by the prospect of a woman – Gul’s wife – wearing the Islamic headscarf in the presidential palace. The potent symbol of religious influence is banned from public life. But with the AK party of prime minister Tayyip Erdogan holding 341 seats in the 550-seat chamber, Gul is expected to be voted in as President.