Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Turkey's Erdogan unveils new cabinet

Turkey's Erdogan unveils new cabinet

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to be sworn in for his second term as head of the state on Monday, taking on greater powers than any Turkish leader for decades under a new system condemned by opponents as autocratic.

He says the changes, the biggest overhaul of governance since the modern Turkish republic was founded from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago, are needed to drive economic growth and guarantee security.

He has also pledged to end the state of emergency that has been in place since the failed July 2016 coup and has seen the biggest purge in the history of modern Turkey.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi were due to attend the ceremony.

The new cabinet, due to be announced at 1800 GMT, is expected to have a different look, especially after Erdogan said the government would include non-AKP figures. Monday's ceremony paves the way to shift Ankara's ruling model from a parliamentary to a presidential republic.

Current Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu could, in theory, continue in his job but reports have said Erdogan may choose his spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, or even spy chief Hakan Fidan to succeed him.

Likewise, the departure of market-friendly ministers such as Mehmet Simsek, the well regarded former deputy prime minister, and Naci Agbal, previously the finance minister, has also undermined confidence.

The lira has been battered by concern about Erdogan's drive for lower interest rates and by comments in May that he planned to take greater control of the economy after the election, which he won on June 24.

The post of prime minister has been scrapped and the president will now be able to select his own cabinet, regulate ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval. Erdogan has described the consolidation as a means to eliminate governmental inefficiency, and his base views his consolidation of authority as a deserved outcome for a leader who has instilled Islamic values in public life, according to Reuters.

Erdogan faces economic problems such as high interest rates and inflation as well as a plunging currency that has lost 17 percent of its value against the dollar since the start of 2018.

In a referendum previous year, Turkish voters approved a series of comprehensive changes that granted significantly more powers to the president, eliminated the prime minister position and increased the size of the country's parliament, to name a few.

But Erdogan faces immediate challenges posed by Ankara's faltering bid to join the European Union and tensions between the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

There is a two-term limit on the office of the president, so he could effectively stay in power until 2028.

Erdogan has said he would appoint ministers from outside parliament, as well as people not from his AK Party.

"We are leaving behind the system that has in the past cost our country a heavy price in political and economic chaos", Erdogan said in an address late on Monday.

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