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Ecevit loses patience with Dervis

Dervis resigned from office but then changed his mind
Dervis resigned from office but then changed his mind  

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Turkey's Economy Minister Kemal Dervis has been told by his boss to stop trying to set up a rival political group or quit the government.

The challenge is the latest crisis for Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit who in recent weeks has faced more than 50 resignations by parliament and Cabinet members of his Democratic Left party.

Last month, Dervis resigned briefly to join a new political party formed by defectors from Ecevit's party. But he withdrew his resignation after pleas from the president and has yet officially to join any party.

On Tuesday, Ecevit's patience appeared to have snapped. He told CNN Turk television: "It is not acceptable for the treasury minister to be going from door to door trying to direct the course of politics.

"Our patience as a party is exhausted. The time has come for a warning, a reminder.

Profile: Bulent Ecevit 
Profile: Kemal Dervis 
Profile: Ismail Cem 

"It is up to Mr. Dervis whether to part company or not."

Dervis told a meeting of businessmen in the western Turkish city of Eskisehir that he was dedicated to staying in office.

"My priority now is the ministry... Until the day it ends or the day it has to end it is essential I do that," he was reported by Reuters as saying.

"Of course you can't separate the two but my aim in coming here is not to carry out politics or a political meeting from Eskisehir but to discuss the economy and social problems."

His speech was dominated by analysis of the economic problems that have forced Turkey to become the IMF's biggest borrower with over $30 billion of loans paid out or pledged.

The beleaguered Ecevit is facing early elections on November 3  

Political uncertainty is threatening economic and political stability in Turkey, which is trying to join the EU and is a key NATO member.

The exodus from Ecevit was spurred in part by calls for early elections by Devlet Bahceli, the nationalist leader whose party is one of the three in the coalition government.

As a result, an emergency session of parliament called at the end of last month voted 449 to 62 in favour of holding elections on 3 November.

There has been much controversy over the status of Ecevit, 77, who has suffered from a number of ailments over the past several months.


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