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Turkey: Embattled Erdogan defends AK Party as trio of ministers resign

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Turkey: Embattled Erdogan defends AK Party as trio of ministers resign


Turkey’s government is in turmoil after three cabinet ministers resigned in the space of a single day.

The trio quit amid a high-level corruption probe engulfing the ruling AK Party.

Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, rejecting allegations there had been pressure on him to step down, broke ranks with the party and said that if he was to go, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan should follow suit.

While Erdogan chose not to comment on the resignations, he defended his party in a speech on Wednesday, saying it owed its success to honesty, commitment to Turkey and its determination to fight against corruption.

But for Erdogan things have gone from bad to worse. Now a former interior minister says he is leaving AK Party ranks.

The cabinet departures follow the arrests of sons of the three ministers as police unveiled a probe into corruption claims involving the state-run Halkbank. The sons of Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan remain in custody, along with 22 others including the head of the bank, Suleyman Aslan. The Environment Minister’s son was released without charge.

Denouncing the arrests as part of a foreign-orchestrated effort to sow discord in Turkey, Erdogan reacted by removing senior police officers from their posts.

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