Turkey holds high-level security meetings in wake of failed coup

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a meeting of the National Security Council in Ankara on Wednesday in the wake of the failed coup attempt, with the potential for decisions on new security measures.

The meeting of the council - which brought together civilian and military leaders - lasted four hours and 40 minutes, state broadcaster TRT reported.

It is to be followed by a cabinet meeting, also chaired by the president, who arrived in the capital on Tuesday evening for the first time since the failed putsch.

Nurettin Canikli, a deputy prime minister, ruled out the imposition of martial law, speaking ahead of the start of the high-level meetings, according to broadcaster Haberturk. He added that the measures to be taken will provide stability and fall within the legal framework.

All political parties in Turkey's parliament rejected the coup attempt, which began on Friday and left some 260 people dead.

But the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) voiced concern about reprisals against the opposition, with lawmaker Ziya Pir telling dpa that other factions "are afraid of being lynched."

Pir also charged that the anti-coup street protests have been in favour of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rather than democracy, creating a "heated" mood in the country.

"Unfortunately, we are seeing a civilian counter-coup," he says, but stressing: "Thank God the coup was averted."

A government official thanked all opposition parties on behalf of the president and the prime minister "for their strong stance against the coup." The official stressed there had not been "a single incident" in which the opposition was attacked.

More than 50,000 civil servants have been fired, suspended or detained in the purge that followed the failed coup, including nearly 3,000 members of the judiciary. Also, 6,746 soldiers have been detained, including more than 100 generals.

Turkey's Ministry of Defence is investigating all military judges and prosecutors and, in this context, has suspended 262 of these officials, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The education ministry added on Wednesday another 6,538 to the list of 15,200 employees suspended a day previously, CNN Turk reported. It also started proceedings to close down 626 educational institutions, including 524 private schools, according to state broadcaster TRT.

In addition, 21,000 teachers at private institutions have had their licences revoked and 1,577 deans at universities were told to resign.

Hundreds of other state employees were suspended, as purges persisted, with the sports ministry, customs office and other departments affected.

Turkish academics were instructed not to travel abroad on assignments, the Council of Higher Education announced, while those abroad should return, barring exceptional circumstances.

Meanwhile, Ratings agency Standard and Poors downgraded the nation's credit rating by one notch - taking the foreign currency rating to BB from BB-plus.

"We believe the polarization of Turkey's political landscape has further eroded its institutional checks and balances," the agency said, putting its outlook to "negative."

"We expect a period of heightened unpredictability that could constrain capital inflows into Turkey's externally leveraged economy," a statement by the agency said, adding that the outlook could be revised if the "independence of key institutions was not eroded."

The lira dropped further, to 3.07 to the dollar. Prior to the failed coup, the Turkish currency was trading at about 2.85 to the greenback.

Turkey has demanded the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in self-imposed exile in the United States, claiming he was behind the coup attempt. Gulen, a one-time ally of Erdogan, denies involvement.

Turkey sent the United States four dossiers on Gulen and has promised to provide ample evidence on his involvement. The US confirmed receipt of the documents but declined to say they constituted a formal extradition request.

Last update: Wed, 20/07/2016 - 19:22

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