Turkey's AKP offers olive branch to secularists

Turkey's ruling AK Party offered an olive branch to the powerful secular elite by proposing a non-Islamist for the post of parliamentary speaker, but it has yet to say who will be its choice for president.

 Turkey's AKP offers olive branch to secularists
Turkey's ruling AK Party offered an olive branch on Wednesday to the powerful secular elite by proposing a non-Islamist for the post of parliamentary speaker, but it has yet to say who will be its choice for president.

The Islamist-rooted AK Party is naming candidates for the top jobs in Turkey's state hierarchy following its landslide win in July 22 parliamentary elections.

But the secularists, including the army generals, are closely watching its every move and are worried it will again pick Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, an ex-Islamist, for the presidency. The secularist camp blocked Gul's candidacy in May.

The leader of Turkey's second biggest opposition party said there would be a new political crisis if Gul ran again.

But the naming of Koksal Toptan, as the AK Party's candidate for speaker, a post that ranks second only to that of president in Turkey, will please secularists and suggests the party is seeking compromise, analysts said.

Toptan does not have an Islamic background and his wife does not wear the Muslim headscarf. He has served in several secular, centre-right governments, including as education minister.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party has a big parliamentary majority, virtually guaranteeing Toptan's election. A first round of voting is scheduled for Thursday.

Toptan will replace the Islamist-minded Bulent Arinc, who announced on Tuesday he would not seek re-election as speaker.

Initial reaction from opposition parties was positive.

"Turkey is entering a new period. This is a new start. Compromise is very important ... We hope Toptan will not act as a ruling party speaker and will be fair to all sides," opposition lawmaker Onur Oymen told NTV television.


Source: Reuters
Last Mod: 09 Ağustos 2007, 13:34
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