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The funeral takes place in Turkey for Suleyman Demirel.

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
The funeral takes place in Turkey for Suleyman Demirel.

Officials of the highest level have gathered to pay their respects at the funeral of a towering figure in Turkish politics.

90-year-old former statesman Suleyman Demirel died in hospital in Ankara earlier in the week.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered condolences to Demirel’s family, relatives and the Turkish people. “Demirel was a piece of living history,” he told the assembled audience. “He served his country, he witnessed Turkey’s good days and bad days. He never forgot his humble origins. We must honour this politician whose name became a trademark. He spoke the language of the people. Wherever I travel in the country, I can see his traces. He left many schools, community buildings and industrial complexes.”

Suleyman Demirel was involved in Turkish politics for more than half a century. He served as prime minister several times in the 1960s and ’70s and as president between 1993 and 2000.

Demirel takes his leave as Turkey faces a return to coalition politics. The governing AK Party failed to clinch a majority in elections on June the 7th.