Top Turkish ministers resign amidst corruption scandal

Three top Turkish ministers resigned today after investigations into allegations of high level corruption and graft implicating the sons of politicians amongst others.

The Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Environment and Urbanization Minister Erdogan Bayraktar announced their resignations today.

The first announcement came hours after Caglayan returned from a trip to Pakistan, where he accompanied Prime Minister Erdogan. He echoed the PM’s words that a “dirty game” was being played, masterminded by foreign political forces against the government, by implicating his (Caglayan’s) close aides and his son.

The political establishment has faced upheaval following the announcement of the high-level corruption probe on 17th December. Meanwhile, the opposition party CHP say that the ministers should have resigned immediately, rather than potentially give themselves time, while still holding office, to disrupt the ongoing investigations. 

The high-level graft probe has shaken the political establishment, exposing a bitter feud between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, whose followers hold key positions in the police, judiciary and secret services.

Twenty four people were arrested during the corruption probe including the sons of Zafer Caglayan and Muammer Guler.

In response, approximately 70 police officers, including the powerful head of Istanbul’s force, have been sacked or moved to different posts.

Lately 400 more police officers in the Istanbul Police Department involved in the investigation have been removed from their posts and transferred in the middle of their investigations into allegations of corruption and bribery.

In an earlier purge, the government removed 15 police chiefs at the Antalya Police Department on Monday. The police chiefs were then appointed to different posts.

Two police chiefs at the Ankara Police Department were transferred from their posts for the second time in five days.

With the latest transfers at the Istanbul Police Department, the number of police officers who have been removed from their posts across Turkey now exceeds 500.

Since news of the investigation broke out last Tuesday, the removal of the police chiefs and their staff is widely interpreted as the government’s attempt to interfere with the corruption investigation.

The response from the Prime Minister who has pointed fingers at “dark forces” and implied US involvement in the corruption scandal has further strained political relations with the US. News of the investigation has served to further weaken the Turkish Lira which latterly has seen its value drop once more, following the ministerial resignations.

Tonight, (Wednesday) Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented a new cabinet list to President Abdullah Gul after the resignation of his three ministers who face allegations of bribery and tender rigging, the NTV channel reported.

Erdogan is expected to announce the new cabinet in the hours, Turkish reporters in Ankara said.

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