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Turkey: Army opens key meet after mass resignation

Tensions between Turkey`s fiercely secularist military and the government led by the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been building for years.



Istanbul: Turkey`s Supreme Military
Council began a crucial annual meeting on Monday days after the
shock mass resignation of the top brass in a clash with the
government over promotions.

The meeting, which reviews the promotion prospects of
senior officers, opened under the direction of Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan but, for the first time ever, without the
country`s four top generals in attendance.

Armed forces chief Isik Kosaner and the separate heads
of the army, navy and air force all dramatically resigned
Friday in a row with Ankara over the promotion of dozens of
officers held in a probe of alleged plots to oust the
government.

After the mass resignations, Erdogan named as acting
forces chief General Necdet Ozel, who was the head of the
military police. Ozel, who was also tapped to head the army on
an emergency basis, is co-chairing the promotions meeting.

Tensions between Turkey`s fiercely secularist military
and the government led by the Islamist-rooted Justice and
Development Party (AKP) have been building for years.

About one tenth of the army`s generals are in custody
over an alleged 2003 coup plot that AKP officials say was
hatched shortly after the party took power in 2002.

The suspects face 15-20 years in jail, though the case
has been marred by serious doubts over the authenticity of
some implicating documents.

The government on Friday nevertheless announced six
new charges against the implicated generals, relating to
additional coup plots and the creation of websites filled with
anti-government propaganda.

Kosaner had several recent meetings with Erdogan to
lobby on behalf of the officers, insisting that they still
benefit from promotions despite the pending charges, local
media has reported.

Analysts say the feud over promotions is part of a
ruling party strategy to ensure its fiercest opponents within
the military do not rise to key posts.

Huseyin Celik, the AKP vice president, insisted the
executive branch will no longer adhere to the tradition of
rubber stamping candidates fronted by the army chief.

"In your capacity (as army chief), you can propose
names, but you can`t impose," Celik was quoted as saying in
the Milliyet newspaper yesterday.

Appointing Ozel as permanent army chief is unlikely to
cause further confrontation, media analysts said.

PTI

From Zee News

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