Former Turkish President Süleyman Demirel, who was twice toppled by the military during seven stints at the head of government, died early on June 17. He was 91.
Demirel, who served as prime minister seven times through the 1960s to the 1990s and was president from 1993 to 2000, died at the Güven Hospital in Ankara where he had been undergoing treatment for a respiratory tract infection, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Born to a farming family in the western Turkish province of Isparta in November 1924, Demirel trained as a civil engineer, according to an official government biography. He first came to power in general elections held five years after a 1960 coup, at the head of the Justice Party.
Known as “”Baba”, or “Dad”, to his fans in Turkey’s farming heartland during his years in power, he served during a period of unstable coalitions in NATO-member Turkey.
Turkey now faces a return to coalition politics after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)
failed to secure a majority government in June 7 elections, marking a major setback for a party that has transformed Turkey into one of the world’s top-20 economies.
Twice deposed by the military in 1971 and 1980, Demirel was one of modern Turkey’s great political survivors.
Despite being hit with a ban from all political activity after the 1980 intervention, he returned to head the government for a final time from 1991-1993.
He then became the ninth Turkish president in May 1993 following the sudden death of his predecessor Turgut Özal, serving his full term until 2000.
In total, Demirel ruled the modern Turkish state longer than anyone else as premier and prime minister, with the exception of the second president and right hand man of its founder, İsmet İnonü.
Hurriyet Daily News