Two Turkish Cabinet ministers resigned on Wednesday over a corruption probe that has pitted the government against the judiciary and rattled foreign investor confidence, officials said.
Sons of Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan were among the 24 people arrested on graft charges on December 17 in a case centering on state-run lender Halkbank, to which Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan responded by purging police investigators involved. Announcing his resignation, Caglayan described the case as an "ugly plot" against the government. Guler stepped down shortly afterward, sources told Reuters.
The Erdogan government casts the scandal as a foreign-orchestrated effort to sow discord in Turkey, which during the Islamist-rooted premier's three terms has flourished economically though he has been accused of authoritarianism.
"I have resigned from my post of economy minister to help the truth to come out and to foil this ugly plot, which has impacted my child and my close work colleagues among others," Caglayan said in a statement.
"It is obvious that the operation carried out on December 17 is a dirty set-up against our party and our government."
The affair has reignited anti-Erdogan sentiment among many Turks that had simmered since the unprecedented mid-2013 mass-protests against his rule. It also drew an EU warning that Ankara needed to safeguard the separation of powers.
Moving to salve the domestic divisions, President Abdullah Gul pledged on Tuesday that there would be no cover-up and that the investigation would be adjudicated in independent courts. – Reuters