Turkey to Appoint New Military Command

Posted July 31st, 2011 at 9:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkey's military and government leaders will meet Monday to discuss what steps to take after the country's top four military commanders resigned in protest at the jailing of hundreds of officers.

Chaired by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Supreme Military Council in Ankara is expected to designate a successor to the chief of Turkey's military forces, General Isik Kosaner, and the other generals who stepped down Friday.

Kosaner and the army, naval and air commanders resigned amid escalating tensions between the secularist military and the Islamic-oriented government.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul told reporters Saturday in Ankara that the resignations were “extraordinary,” but said there will be no power vacuum.

The government moved quickly to appoint General Necdet Ozel, chief of the gendarmerie, as head of the army and acting chief of general staff.

Ozel will lead the military delegation to the four-day Supreme Military Council, which will also be attended by Mr. Gul and senior Cabinet Ministers.

The resignations came after Kosaner met with Prime Minister Erdogan and President Gul to discuss key promotions of military staff at Monday's council meeting. Mr. Erdogan is reported to have signaled he would block promotions for officers he believed were part of a conspiracy to bring down his government.

Turkish authorities have detained more than 300 people as part of a wide-reaching investigation into alleged plots to undermine the government. Some 200 active and retired military officers, including 30 generals, have been charged in the probe. Most of the officers who have been charged are being held in prison.

Kosaner said in his resignation statement that he cannot defend the rights of military men who are unfairly imprisoned.