Tuesday, March 11
Turk PM moves to hand over power, U.S. watches
Hidir Goktas, Reuters, March 11, 2003

ANKARA - Prime Minister Abdullah Gul resigned on Tuesday to hand power to ruling party chief Tayyip Erdogan, bete noire of Turkey's secular establishment, hours after Erdogan emerged from a political ban to enter parliament.

The process will be watched closely by Washington, which seeks quick clarification on a request to deploy 62,000 troops in Turkey for a possible attack on Iraq. Such a plan was rejected by parliament on March 1, but the United States hopes deputies will reconsider it after Erdogan takes over.

Gul, prime minister since Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) stormed to victory in November, tendered his resignation to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Sezer was expected to nominate Erdogan within hours to form a government.

Erdogan would visit the palace to submit a cabinet list to Sezer, possibly on Wednesday. He would take office the moment Sezer approved that list, probably at the same meeting.

Erdogan had been unable to run in the November poll because of a 1990s conviction for Islamist sedition. That ban has since been lifted with a constitutional amendment, opening the way for his election at a weekend byelection and appointment as premier.

The former Istanbul mayor is viewed warily by the powerful military and hardliners in the political establishment for the Islamist roots he now renounces. [...]
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