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Turkey facing 'mini-coup bid', says deputy PM

Government will not yield to fraud probe, which targeted government and damaged national economy, Ali Babacan says.

Last updated: 31 Dec 2013 15:53
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Tensions within the ruling AKP follow a summer of protests centred around Istanbul's Taksim Square

Turkey's government has said it is fending off a "mini-coup attempt" by elements in the police and judiciary who serve the interests of foreign and domestic forces bent on humbling the country.

Ali Babacan, deputy prime minister with charge of the economy, says the ruling AK Party (AKP) had in the past survived military coup plots and attempts in the courts to outlaw it.

It would not now yield to a corruption investigation that he said targeted the government and was already damaging the national economy.

"These latest formations in the judiciary and the police, we can't call it a coup, but a mini-coup attempt. This is what interests foreign investors," Babacan told CNBC-e in an interview aired by the broadcaster on Tuesday, echoing suggestions by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, of a foreign interest in the crisis.

"Maybe the clearest indicator of this was the fall in share prices."

The market value of Turkish listed companies had fallen $49bn by Monday's market close, he said.

The main share index was down one percent on Tuesday.

Further resignation

Erdogan has, without naming it, accused a movement led by Turkish religious leader Fethullah Gulen of creating a "state within a state", using influence in the police and judiciary in a campaign to discredit the government.

The Hizmet [Service] movement controls a vast global network of schools and businesses.

Tensions have grown between the two former allies over elements of foreign and domestic policy and moves to close his private schools in Turkey.

The fraud inquiry became public on December 17 with a series of raids and detentions of senior businessmen close to Erdogan and of the sons of three ministers.

Since then, the media hostile to Erdogan has brimmed with tales of police raiding offices or homes and seizing caches of dollar bills.

Erdogan's supporters argue that accusations have so far lacked any substance and were driven by political ambitions.

"We as the government are on the job," Babacan said. "We created this political and economic stability with our own strength.

"We will not easily allow someone to come and take it away. However many efforts there were until now trying to shake political stability, we overcame them all."

As Babacan was speaking, news emerged of a further resignation from the AKP. A total of seven MPs have resigned from the AKP since the end of November, five since the December 17 police raids.

There is, however, no sign of any large-scale abandonment of the party, which dominates Turkish politics.

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