x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Turkey's military command quits in row with government

Dispute stems from Turkish army pushing to promote generals under suspicion of plotting against the ruling party.

ANKARA // Turkey's army chief-of-staff and the entire military command have resigned in a row with the government over promotions for generals held in an alleged anti-government plot, media reported Friday.

General Isik Kosaner stepped down after several meetings in recent days with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ahead of an early August meeting of the army's high command which decides on promotions for senior officers.

As well as Kosaner, the commanders of the army, air force and navy also quit, NTV and CNN-Turk reported, which is unprecedented in Turkey, a NATO member.

The authorities are holding 42 officers, including several generals, as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the moderate offshoot of a banned Islamist movement.

Several of those held are already retired.

But senior officers in the army had been trying to get some of the serving officers promoted, despite their incarceration.

The government insisted that they be forced to retire.

Now members of the high command who stepped down Friday have themselves asked for early retirement, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The dramatic mass resignation has particular resonance in Turkey, which endured military coups followed by periods of repression in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

In 1997, an army-led campaign forced the resignation of the country's first Islamist-led government.

The AKP has been in power since 2002.