Erdoğan, Büyükanıt have surprise talks

Erdoğan, Büyükanıt 
   have surprise talks

May 05, 2007, Saturday/ 20:18:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met yesterday with the head of the military, the first such encounter since the military threatened to intervene in the presidential election last week.

Erdoğan received Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt at his office in İstanbul.

The meeting lasted more than two hours and there was no immediate announcement after the talks. News reports said the meeting was exclusive, attended by Büyükanıt and Erdoğan alone. Last week, Erdoğan nominated his close ally Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül as candidate for the presidency, but Gül failed to win enough votes in the first round of the election, held on Friday, to secure the post.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) took the election to the Constitutional Court asking for its cancellation because, it said, there were not enough deputies attending the vote. Hours later, the military issued a statement accusing Erdoğan’s government of tolerating rising Islamist activity and threatening to act to preserve the secular character of the republic. The unexpected statement was widely seen as a signal that Gül was not welcomed by the country’s top generals as the head of state.

The government, for its part, responded equally harshly, calling the army to order and saying that it was answerable to the civilian authority. Erdoğan and Büyükanıt had spoken over the telephone a day after the military statement. Media reports said Erdoğan had expressed unease over the statement.

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