Turkish prime minister steps down
June 18, 1997
Web posted at: 5:03 p.m. EDT (2103 GMT)
ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- Fundamentalist Prime Minister
Necmettin Erbakan resigned Wednesday in an attempt to calm
Turkey's military's fears about his Islamist policies.
President Suleyman Demirel accepted Erbakan's resignation and
asked him to stay on as caretaker while he decides who to tap
in his place.
Former prime minister Tansu Ciller, leader of the pro-Western
True Path Party, joined Erbakan to announce that the
ultra-nationalist Great Unity Party had agreed to support a
new government with Ciller at the helm.
But it was unclear if Demirel would designate Ciller, and it
was uncertain that she could win a confidence vote in the
Parliament if she were chosen.
New elections likely will be held in three to four months.
Erbakan's party was the top vote-getter, with 21 percent, in
1995 elections. His Islamic Welfare Party allied with
Ciller's party to form the current government.
But in 11 months in office, Erbakan has come under increasing
opposition from Turkey's powerful generals, who consider
themselves the protectors of a modern, secular Turkey.
Last week, the military issued a stern warning that it would
use force if necessary to stop an Islamic threat to the
"I resigned because I am a true patriot," Erbakan said
Wednesday. "I am guaranteeing the future of the country by
coming up with an alternative government."
The military may not be satisfied with the compromise,
however, since it leaves Islamic Welfare Party members in key
Reuters contributed to this report.
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