Deputy PM Bulent Arinc on Thursday dismissed media reports suggesting that a conflict emerged between PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Deputy PM during last week’s cabinet meeting over the government’s response to anti-government protests and Arinc resigned from his post. President Abdullah Gul had to move in and persuaded Arinc not to resign, daily Taraf reported.
Arinc was the acting PM when Erdogan travelled to North Africa shortly after the anti-government protests began. In Erdogan’s absence Arinc apologised for the use of excessive violence by police against protestors. Gul also tried to quell the protests. However when he returned from his North Africa tour Erdogan adopted a very tough line, dismissing the protestors as extremists, hooligans and a marginal group. Erdogan’s rhetoric angered protestors and triggered more demonstrations. At the cabinet meeting on June 10 Erdogan criticized Arinc’s statements in his absence, according to media reports.
Unrest began in late May as a small sit-in over the government’s plan to demolish Gezi Park in Istanbul but spiralled into far wider anti-government protests after a police crackdown. At least four people have died so far in the clashes, including a police officer. Despite eased tensions in Istanbul, protests continued in the capital Ankara on Thursday.
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