Main opposition says gov't lost legitimacy, calls on Erdoğan to quit

Main opposition says gov't lost legitimacy, calls on Erdoğan to quit

Bilal Erdoğan (Photo: Archive)

February 24, 2014, Monday/ 01:15:00

Turkish main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has said the Turkish government has lost its legitimacy and called on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to resign immediately after the leak of prime minister's voice recording.

CHP Deputy Chairman Haluk Koç said in a press conference on Monday that the government has lost its entire legitimacy from "this hour" and that Turkey cannot move forward with this "dirt."

The remarks by Koç came during an emergency meeting of the CHP Central Executive Board (MYK), where they discussed a new voice recording published online about a discussion allegedly between the prime minister and his son on their plan to hide $1 billion cash stashed at several houses.

Early on Tuesday, executive board of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also held a meeting under the leadership of chairman Devlet Bahçeli. It was not immediately clear if the party would make a press statement following the talks.

In the new voice recording, Erdoğan and his son Bilal allegedly discuss during five wiretapped phone conversations on plans how to hide huge sums of cash on the day when police raided a number of venues as part of a corruption investigation that has implicated sons of three Turkish ministers, businessmen and chief of the state bank.

Today’s Zaman couldn’t immediately verify the authenticity of the voice recording. It was not clear if the sound that is similar to Erdoğan's voice is real.

Prime Ministry released a forceful statement late on Monday, claiming that the voice recording is a "product of montage" and it is "completely false." The Prime Ministry vowed in the statement to sue those who orchestrated this "dirty plot."

The voice recording is the latest in a series of leaked phone conversations of embattled Erdoğan, who has portrayed the graft investigation as a plot to overthrow his government. In the voice recording, published on YouTube late on Monday, Erdoğan seems to be warning his son Bilal about cash money stashed in several houses. It was not possible to decipher from conversations how much money is involved and in how many houses this amount of money is stocked, but an introductory note at the beginning of the video says the plan involves at least $1 billion cash stashed in five houses.

The conversation allegedly took place on Dec. 17, when prosecutors ordered police to raid dozens of addresses to collect evidence. Dozens of suspects were arrested, including an Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab and chief of state bank Halkbank, Süleyman Aslan. Some of the suspects were later released.

At the beginning of the phone conversation, the prime minister briefs his son Bilal about the raid and asks him to “zero” the amount stashed at houses of several people.

In the second phone conversation, Bilal Erdoğan tells his father that they decided to distribute money to several businessmen whom they owe and “melt” significant part of it by paying for different projects. Some of the businessmen mentioned during the phone conversations include Faruk Kalyoncu and Mehmet Gür. Erdoğan approves their plan and reiterates that it is “better if they completely zero the money.”

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