Opposition parties criticize corruption, call on gov't to resign

Photo: Opposition parties criticize corruption, call on gov't to resign / Turkey

As reverberations of a tender rigging case continue, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilichdaroglu has said he supports the probe into allegations of corruption, stressing that his party will back anyone who pursues with determination those who abuse public resources, Today's Zaman reported.

Speaking at the Mevlana Cultural Center in Konya on Tuesday, Kilichdaroglu touched upon the recent investigation into alleged bribery linked to public tenders, saying that his party will closely monitor the probe.

"Ugur Mumcu [a journalist who was assassinated in 1993] has a saying: Murderers have no ideology, be they leftists or conservatives; he is simply a murderer. We should go after anyone involved in corruption," said Kilichdaroglu, expressing strong backing of the investigation into corruption cases.

The alleged involvement of the sons of three Cabinet members in bribery and corruption has drawn a harsh reaction from the country's opposition parties. CHP Deputy Chairman Umut Oran submitted a question to Parliament on Tuesday regarding the allegations of bribery and corruption that surfaced as a result of an investigation launched by the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office that led to the detention of dozens of suspects by the police that morning. Oran asked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan why he did not dismiss the three ministers whose sons were detained. "It has been revealed that the police have been wiretapping the phone conversations of the three ministers and their sons for one year. Did the police inform you about this? If so, why did you not remove these three ministers from office when you knew about claims of bribery?" Oran asked. The CHP deputy chairman also asked Erdogan if he is planning to resign in the wake of the bribery scandal in which his Cabinet members are allegedly involved.

In addition, CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Engin Altay told Today's Zaman that the police would not dare to detain the sons of ministers unless they had concrete evidence indicating that those men were engaged in illegal activities. Altay also said his party established a three-member "crisis desk" to follow developments regarding the anti-bribery operation. He also defined the involvement of ministers' sons in bribery and corruption as the "biggest scandal in the history of the republic," and added: "In a strong democracy, one would expect the government to make a statement about such a major operation. However, our government has not made any such statement yet. This delay leads us to believe that the incident [corruption claims] is so big as to require the government to resign. The CHP will follow the developments and hold the government accountable."

CHP Deputy Chairman Gursel Tekin called on the three ministers whose sons were detained to resign so that the investigation can be conducted appropriately.

Oktay Vural, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman, said Tuesday's operation and detentions were only "the tip of the iceberg." According to Vural, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has transformed into a "lobby for personal gain," as the government is working to make its members grow richer.

"The operation must continue through the very end. I do not know what will happen in the end but I believe the deep relations [of the government] have something to do with efforts to gain personally from Turkey's richness," Vural added. He also criticized the media for its attempts to "obscure" facts about the corruption operation. "TV stations which announce breaking news on even minor developments have turned a blind eye to this operation. The media is trying to obscure the facts. This is a disgrace to democracy," he complained.

Vural also said the preliminary findings of the probe is the tip of the iceberg and many more revelations will follow in the days to come.

MHP Adana Mayor Seyfettin Yilmaz said the AK Party government should resign. "The involvement of the sons of three ministers in corruption and bribery is a first, both in Turkey and the world. Today's operation is the operation of the century. The government should resign," he stated.

Felicity Party (SP) leader Mustafa Kamalak said he was surprised by the corruption probe that involved prominent businessmen, sons of Cabinet ministers and important bureaucrats. "At this stage, it would not be appropriate to comment on the investigation from a legal or moral perspective," he said.

The opposition has expressed concern that the government may seek an order from the courts to prevent the press from covering the corruption probe.

CHP deputy Gurkut Acar said a ban might be imposed on reporting about the investigation, adding: "I can say as a lawyer that from this point on I do not think that there will be a proper investigation leading to a healthy conclusion. It will be covered up."

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