Turkish Interior Minister resigns in surprise move

Turkish Interior Minister resigns in surprise move

Turkish Interior Minister resigns in surprise move

AA photo

Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala has resigned, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced following an unscheduled meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late on Aug. 31. 

Labor Minister Süleyman Soylu has replaced Ala and former Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu has replaced Soylu as labor minister, Yıldırım said.

“I thank Efkan Ala, who left his post as the interior minister, for his services,” Yıldırım said after meeting Erdoğan. 

“I wish the newly assigned ministers success,” he added. 

The shift came at a time when the government is carrying out a large-scale campaign against the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen following the July 15 failed coup attempt blamed on the group amid an escalation in the number of attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has also staged several bomb attacks in the past year, including the deadliest one in the country’s history on Oct. 10, 2015. 

Soylu joined the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2012 and served as a party deputy leader before entering the cabinet. 

Meanwhile, Soylu said Turkey would fight the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) “plague” until no member is left.

“Turkey will get rid of this evil and cowardice. This is the decision of the Turkish Republic, the policy of the government and the order of the people. It’s a big responsibility to receive this post from Efkan Ala, a beautiful son of Anatolia and our dear friend who never abandoned the road of democracy and law,” Soylu said at the handover ceremony at the Interior Ministry in Ankara where he took over his new post while also vowing to fight the PKK and ISIL. 

“July 15 is a turning point for our nation, for the region and countries who have hope in Turkey. Our noble people have shown to the world that democracy is a vital element in becoming a nation,” he also said. 

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Ala thanked the president, prime minister, his colleagues and the “precious nation.” 

“I salute them with respect and thank each and every one of them,” he said.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ commented on Ala’s resignation, saying he learned of the changes in the cabinet from the media. 

“I spoke to Efkan Ala on the phone, but didn’t have time to talk about the reasons for why this happened,” Bozdağ said late Aug. 31.  

Sources claimed there were three reasons for Ala’s resignation, one being prosecutors’ complaints that law enforcement officials were not complying enough during the FETÖ operations, Nuray Babacan from daily Hürriyet reported on Sept. 1. 

The second reason was reportedly a report sent to Ankara before a massive PKK attack last week in Cizre in the southeastern province of Şırnak. According to the sources, the fact that the attack was carried out even though the ministry was informed about “security shortcomings” prepared the ground for Ala’s resignation. 

The final reason was reportedly the appointments made following the imposition of the state of emergency amid rumors that some of the governors and police chiefs who were assigned are members of FETÖ.