Ministers hand over posts ahead of elections

May 09, 2007, Wednesday/ 19:07:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
The interior, justice and transport ministers handed over their posts to bureaucrats on Tuesday, to ensure that the general elections on July 22 are organized without government influence.The replacement of the three ministers is a routine procedure outlined in the constitution as part of the lead up to general elections. Interior Minister Abdülkadir Aksu left his ministry to Osman Güneş, the governor of the central province of Kayseri, while Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek handed his post to his undersecretary, Fahri Kasırga. The undersecretary of maritime affairs, İsmet Yılmaz, was appointed as a replacement for Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım.

Former Interior Minister Aksu, in a speech he gave during the handing-over ceremony, recalled that Article 114 of the Constitution called for his withdrawal from the post. The former minister said in his four-and-a-half years in office, the ministry had performed important services. “During this period, the Higher Counterterrorism Council has adopted a new conceptual and institutional structure, and the necessary security measures have been brought to the maximum level.”

Aksu said that as of yesterday, 102 security cooperation agreements or protocols had been signed with 57 countries. He also described the accomplishments achieved under the “back-to-the-village” project, where those people who had to leave their hometowns because of the terrorist activities in the Southeast were assisted in returning to their villages.

The former minister also noted the improvement in human rights he had overseen. “During my term in office, torture and ill treatment were eradicated from amongst the issues facing our country, thanks to our zero-tolerance policy.”

Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek, in a separate ceremony to hand his post to his undersecretary, said that his ministry had tried to “serve the Turkish judiciary” in his years in office. Çiçek also commented on the recent constitutional amendment package as proposed by the government. Stressing that the reform package included holding parliamentary elections every four years, as opposed to every five years as under current regulations, Çiçek recalled that the number of years which parliament serves had been a controversial subject for a long time.

The former justice minister also praised another change introduced in the package which called for electing the president by popular vote every five years, as opposed to the current regulation where the president is elected for seven years by Parliament, saying such a change would minimize the tension that Turkey seems to go through ahead of every presidential election. Çiçek and the newly appointed Kasırga congratulated each other after the ceremony.

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