Tags: Turkey's | Victorious | Islamists | Try | Allay | Fears

Turkey's Victorious Islamists Try to Allay Fears

Monday, 04 November 2002 12:00 AM

"We included in our program that we are not a religious party," Tayyip Erdogan said. "Our future practice will show whether these conceptions are right or wrong."

Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, known by its initials AKP, won 363 seats in the 550-seat Parliament, capturing 34.1 percent of the popular votes cast Sunday. The social democrat Republican Peoples' Party won 178 seats with 19.3 percent of the vote. Nine independents filled the remaining seats at the National Assembly.

None of the 16 contesting parties was able to pass the 10-percent threshold to be represented at the parliament, making it a two-party assembly for the first time since 1954.

Leaders of the three major parties that make up the present ruling coalition said they would step down from their posts.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, the veteran politician who was has been on the political scene since 1957, tendered his and his Cabinet's resignation Monday to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Sezer asked him to continue until a new government was formed.

Despite its landslide victory, the AK Party faces the prospect of being closed and Erdogan, due to a past conviction, is banned from entering contesting elections.

Erdogan said his party's executive board would meet to elect a prime ministerial candidate Tuesday.

Erdogan's comments Monday came at a news conference for the foreign media where he sought to allay fears his party would clash with Turkey's secular order and with the country's popular military.

"Everybody's area of responsibility is clearly stated in the constitution," Erdogan said. "This is our army, our apple of the eye. Nobody should allow himself to come between us and the military. We won't allow anybody to do that."

Repeating a determination to accelerate Turkey's entry to the European Union, Erdogan said he would contact European governments and opposition parties in a bid to start Ankara's accession negotiations. He said his party would implement an economic program to integrate with the world.

Greece was the first to congratulate him on his victory on the polls, Erdogan said, and he would soon visit Athens.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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We included in our program that we are not a religious party, Tayyip Erdogan said. Our future practice will show whether these conceptions are right or wrong. Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, known by its initials AKP, won 363 seats in the 550-seat Parliament,...
Turkey's,Victorious,Islamists,Try,Allay,Fears
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2002-00-04
Monday, 04 November 2002 12:00 AM
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