Kilichdaroglu demands resignation of four ministers

Photo: Kilichdaroglu demands resignation of four ministers / Turkey

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilichdaroglu has said it would have been a "crime" to inform the prime minister in advance about a corruption operation that has rocked Turkey since Tuesday and called on four ministers to resign to avoid covering up the investigation, Today's Zaman reported.

"Prime Minister Erdogan complained about not being informed about the graft probe in advance. Informing Erdogan in advance would have been a crime," Kilichdaroglu said. Kilichdaroglu was referring to the prime minister's description of those who carried out the anti-graft operation as an "illegal gang within the state."

Maintaining that the Turkish society has lost confidence in the government, he said, at the Indusry Congress for 2013 held by Turkish Union of Architects' and Engineers' Chambers (TMMOB) in Ankara on Friday, even changing the whole cabinet of ministers would not change this fact.

Kilichdaroglu noted that Erdogan and his party are trying to cover up the corruption case.

"They dismissed police chiefs right after the raid had started. His ministers' sons are being investigated, yet those ministers are still in place. It is the prime minister's job to do what is necessary. If not, you are also part of this ring," Kilichdaroglu said.

Friday marks the fourth day on the highly publicized corruption case which involves politicians, mayors and businesspeople. Kilichdaroglu's remarks came on a day when authorities removed another 14 police chiefs at National Police Department in capital Ankara and replaced them with new ones.

"A prime minister that tries to cover up the corruption documents, has nothing to give to Turkey," Kilichdaroglu said, adding that the four ministers should resign.

The removal of police chiefs in Ankara on Friday was in addition to removal of senior police officials, including İstanbul Police Chief Hüseyin CHapkin, on Thursday from their posts. Jurists said their removal amounted to an attempted cover-up and a "blatant intervention" into the judicial investigation.

Recalling Erdogan's statements pointing to a "gang within the state" that is behind the raids, the CHP leader said PM should gather cabinet of ministers to see the real gang, labeling PM as the head of the gang.

"The government should resign in a country where four ministers are faced with such serious accusations," Tunca Toskay, a deputy from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has told Today's Zaman. Noting that people with high moral values would be expected to resign in such a situation, he added: This [situation] is worse than dirt itself."

The detention of 52 people, including bureaucrats, well-known businessmen and the sons of three ministers, on Tuesday came as a bombshell in the Turkish media. Bariş Güler, the son of Interior Minister Muammer Güler, Salih Kaan CHaglayan, the son of Economy Minister Zafer CHaglayan, Abdullah Oguz Bayraktar, the son of Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, and Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir were all detained in the investigation. Following these detentions, the government began to dismiss all police chiefs involved with the corruption probe.

Hasip Kaplan, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has complianed that Turkey does not have a tradition of resignation even when politicians face serious allegations. "This should change," he told Today's Zaman.

The CHP and the BDP have also demanded that an investigation commission to be established in Parliament to look into allegations of corruption. Following an investigation motion previously submitted by the BDP to Parliament, a CHP deputy chirman, Sezgin Tanrikulu, submitted, on Friday, another motion for the establishment of such a commision.

Noting that corruption in public dealings is a major reason for the poverty people suffer from and that the confidence people have towards the state is eaten away by allegations of corruption in governmeent, Tanrikulu said, in the motion, that tenders particularly connected with the Ministry of Interior Affairs should be looked into.

CHP Deputy Chairman Umut Oran submitted, on Friday, two parliamentary questions about Reza Zarrab, an Iranian citizen of Azeri origin who is one of the major supects in the graft probe. "When was Zarrab granted Turkish citizenship?" Oran asked in his question to the Interior Minister Güler, who is claimed to have been bribed by Zarrab. Oran also demanded to know when the Iranian business person got his Turkish identity card and whether there was a public servant who mediated for Zarrab to get Turkish identity.

In the second parliamentary question, to be answered by Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economy Ali Babacan, Oran asked Babacan whether he gave any instructions to Halkbank, a public bank general manager of which is one of the suspects in the probe, regarding dealings with Iran.

Recalling that 47 US congressmen sent a letter claiming to the US Secretary of State that Halkbank was engaged in illegal dealings with Iran violating US sanctions imposed against Iran due to its alleged nuclear activities, Oran asked whether US officials communicated this claim also to Babacan and whether Babacan took any step to investigate the issue.

A criminal organization allegedly headed by Zarrab is claimed to have distributed to three of the ministers and their sons a total of TL 137 million ($66 million) in bribes to cloak fictitious exports and money laundering which the organization was engaged in.

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