Istanbul: Turkey`s Prime Minister convened his party leadership on Sarurday to discuss anti-government protests that have entered their ninth day, as an opposition party leader urged the government to call early elections and renew its mandate.
With thousands of people still occupying Istanbul`s central Taksim Square, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with top officials from his Justice and Development Party in Istanbul. He has said the protest must end immediately.
Speaking after the meeting, party spokesman Huseyin Cilik ruled out early elections, saying rumors that the 2015 general elections would be moved forward were bogus.
Earlier, the head of Turkey`s nationalist party, Devlet Bahceli, had called for early elections for Erdogan to reaffirm his mandate.
"The Prime Minister`s stance and the tumult have deepened the crisis," Bahceli told reporters. "The Prime Minister`s time is up, we believe he has to renew his mandate."
The protests began as a sit-in at a park in Taksim Square to prevent a redevelopment project that would replace the park with replica Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall. The mall idea seems to have fallen by the wayside, with Erdogan recently saying an opera house, theater and possibly a museum would be built instead.
But violent intervention by Police to eject the protesters on May 31 outraged many, and the protests spread to dozens of cities across Turkey.
Over the past nine days of demonstrations and frequent violent confrontations with police, three people have been killed-two protesters and a policeman-and thousands have been injured.
The protests have attracted a broad array of people angered by what they say are Erdogan`s increasingly authoritarian ways and his intervention in private lives. They point to attempts to curtail the selling and promotion of alcohol, his comments on how women should dress and statements that each woman should have at least three children.
A devout Muslim who says he is committed to upholding Turkey`s secular tradition, Erdogan vehemently rejects charges of autocracy and points out that he enjoyed 50 per cent support in the last elections in 2011.
Over the past week, protesters, mainly young, secular and middle-class, but also including some religious Muslims who were formerly Erdogan supporters, have set up camp in Taksim Square and its Gezi Park. They have vowed to remain there until the development project for the area is cancelled; something Erdogan has shown no signs of being willing to do.