Three Turkish ministers step down over graft scandal
Three Turkish ministers have stepped down amid a corruption scandal that has plagued the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On Wednesday, Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar announced his resignation just hours after Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan both stepped down.
Bayraktar called on the prime minister to leave the cabinet too.
Some 24 people, including the sons of interior and economy ministers, chief executive of state-owned Halkbank, Suleyman Aslan, and prominent businessmen close to Erdogan have been formally charged with the corruption scandal that has shaken the country’s political establishment.
Dozens of senior police officials, including Istanbul Police Chief Huseyin Capkin, were also removed from their posts.
On Tuesday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said the government might fire cabinet ministers over the high-level scandal.
This comes while Erdogan has denounced the probe as a plot to undermine his government ahead of the local elections in March.
On Saturday, the Turkish prime minister warned that he might expel some foreign diplomats involved in “provocative actions” against the Turkish state.
“These recent days, very strangely, ambassadors get involved in some provocative acts. I am calling on them from here, do your job. If you leave your area of duty, this could extend into our government’s area of jurisdiction. We do not have to keep you in our country,” Erdogan told the supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the province of Samsun.
Analysts say the graft scandal is a big challenge for Erdogan, who has pledged to root out corruption in the country.