PM rejects demands for change in Cabinet

PM Erdoğan has said it is not the right time to consider a change in the Cabinet.

PM rejects demands for change in Cabinet
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said it is not the right time to consider a change in the Cabinet, ruling out prospects that certain ministers may be replaced, as expected by certain ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) members.

Erdoğan, speaking at his party's Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on Tuesday evening, noted that it would not be right to make a change in the Cabinet at a time when his governing party faces closure. "It is not the right time to make a change in the Cabinet. We may discuss this issue at a more appropriate time," he said.
The AK Party is currently facing a closure case after a prosecutor petitioned the Constitutional Court in March to disband the ruling party on the grounds that it has become the focal point of "anti-secular activities."

AK Party Kırıkkale deputy Vahit Erdem voiced his demand during the MYK meeting for the replacement of several Cabinet members, including Education Minister Hüseyin Çelik, Health Minister Recep Akdağ, Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker, Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay and Minister for Women and Family Affairs Nimet Çubukçu, claiming these figures have been acting as ministers for the last seven years but have not achieved any remarkable success throughout this period.

An AK Party MYK member whose name was not released reportedly said Çelik's various activities were included in the indictment prepared by a prosecutor for the closure of the AK Party.

"It does not seem probable for a minister who has remained in his post for seven years to achieve remarkable success," he reportedly noted.

Erdoğan, in response, said making a change to the Cabinet at a time when the AK Party faces closure, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) demands Çelik be replaced and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli wants Finance Minister Kemal Unakıtan to be removed from office would have an undesired impact on the ruling party.

The AK Party MYK members pointed to various reasons why Erdoğan should make changes in the Cabinet. They said after Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik was appointed minister, the relations between the government and labor unions received a serious blow. "Çelik has been unsuccessful in reaching a consensus with the unions. This is the case in May Day negotiations. He has adopted a wrong stance toward the unions," they noted.

The MYK members also complained that Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin is not a successful Cabinet member and pointed to the long journey Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) -- harshly criticized for limiting free speech -- had to make before it was finally amended early Wednesday.

After years of foot-dragging, the government submitted a proposal to Parliament on April 7 to amend Article 301 of the TCK, which has been used in the prosecution of several intellectuals, journalists and activists for "insulting Turkishness." The long-awaited amendment was approved with 250 votes for and 65 against early Wednesday amid fierce criticism from the opposition.

Akdağ has been harshly criticized for not making improvements to the health system in Turkey, and Gönül has received criticism for not making any statements about recent operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) operatives in N. Iraq.

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Last Mod: 01 Mayıs 2008, 09:39
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