Following the resignations of three top Cabinet ministers yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan announced the names of his new Cabinet on late Wednesday evening.
The Prime Minister met with President Gul prior to the announcements on Wednesday evening to inform him of the changes.
The reshuffle was announced after Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Environment and Urbanization Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, who face bribery and corruption allegations, announced their resignations yesterday. Initially, Prime Minister Erdogan had stood by the ministers who face charges of corruption, however, in an abrupt about face, he demanded that they resign.
Guler’s replacement is former PM Undersecretary Efkan Ala, one of Erdogan’s closest aides. The new Environment and Urban Planning Minister is Idris Gulluce who replaces Erdogan Bayraktar and Nihat Zeybekci took over the Ministry of Economy.
The former Environment Minister, Erdogan Bayraktar earlier called upon PM Erdogan to also step down for the good of the country. He said that he acknowledged that the PM had every right to choose his Cabinet Ministers, however, he had been pressured to resign, despite the fact that large swathes of zone planning under his authority and now under investigation, had been approved by the Prime Minister.
A number of other Cabinet members have been replaced including EU Minister Egemen Bagis. Bagis (pictured with Guler and Caglayan at a recent rally) has also been named as a suspect involved in bribery and corruption during the investigations.
Once the investigations into graft had been made public over a week ago, high level police officers were removed from their posts and demands were made by various ministries to know the details of the probe, thereby blowing a hole in the confidentiality of the investigations. Over 400 police officers have now been removed and re-assigned in the midst of the investigations as it was suggested that they were not acting correctly. Last week journalists had been forbidden to enter police stations to interview officers.
This government clampdown has given rise to speculation that efforts at ministerial level, were being made to hinder the investigations.