Turkey PM replaces cabinet members

[JURIST] Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] on Wednesday named ten new members of his cabinet following the resignation of three members under investigation for graft. Nine of the ten new cabinet ministers are members of the ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website]. Erdogan picked [Al Jazeera report] his undersecretary, an unelected official, to run the Interior Ministry. The cabinet shuffle appears to have been prompted by the growing corruption scandal. There is no indication that Erdogan himself plans to resign, despite calls for his resignation by outgoing Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar. The opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), accused [Reuters report] Erdogan of trying to run a "deep state" following his announcement regarding the new party members.

Turkey has been under increased pressure to legitimize its judiciary following allegations of political corruption. Earlier this month a Turkish court in Diyarbakir rejected [JURIST report] bids to release two members of the parliament for the Kurdish Peace and Democratic Party (BDP), Gulser Yildirim and Ibrahim Ayhan. Yildirim and Ayhan have been detained [Reuters report] since 2010 when they were each charged with links to the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) [party website]. This decision came after Turkey's top court ruled [Turkish Weekly report] that the long-term detention of another member of parliament of the opposing party pending trial was in contradiction to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey [text, PDF]. In this ruling, the top court promised to act in accordance with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website]. The leaders of the PKK claim that the denial of the release was political and disregarded the public will as the decision occurred in the mainly Kurdish southeast region. The BDP called the ruling a "legal scandal." The government responded that the judiciary is independent in their decisions.

 

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