Erdogan to make changes following failed coup

  • 31/07/2016
Erdogan to make changes following failed coup

Turkey will shut down its military academies and put the armed forces under the command of the defence minister, President Tayyip Erdogan said in a move designed to bring the military under tighter government control after a failed coup.

The changes, some of which Erdogan said would likely be announced in the government's official gazette by Sunday, come after more than 1700 military personnel were dishonourably discharged for their role in the abortive July 15-16 putsch.

Erdogan, who narrowly escaped capture and possible death on the night of the coup, told Reuters in an interview last week that the military, NATO's second-biggest, needed "fresh blood".

The dishonourable discharges included around 40 per cent of Turkey's admirals and generals.

Turkey accuses US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the putsch, in which a faction of the military commandeered tanks, helicopters and fighter jets and attempted to topple the government. Erdogan has said 237 people were killed and more than 2100 wounded.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for years, denies the charge and has condemned the coup.

So far, more than 60,000 people in the military, judiciary, civil service and schools have been either detained, removed or suspended over suspected links with Gulen.

Turkey's Western allies condemned the attempted putsch, but have been rattled by the scale of the resulting crackdown.

"Our armed forces will be much stronger with the latest decree we are preparing. Our force commanders will report to the defence minister," Erdogan said in an interview on Saturday with A Haber, a private broadcaster.

"Military schools will be shut down ... We will establish a national defence university."

He also said he wanted the national intelligence agency and the chief of general staff, the most senior military officer, to report directly to the presidency, moves that would require a constitutional change and therefore the backing of opposition parties.

Both the general staff and the intelligence agency now report to the prime minister's office. Putting them under the president's overall direction would be in line with Erdogan's push for a new constitution centred on a strong executive presidency.

Erdogan also said that a total of 10,137 people have been formally arrested following the coup.

European leaders worry that their differences with Erdogan could prompt him to put an end to a historic deal, agreed in March, to stem the wave of migrants to Europe.

"The success of the pact so far is fragile. President Erdogan has several times hinted he wants to terminate the agreement," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Austria's Kurier newspaper in an interview, when asked if the pact could fall apart.

Erdogan has called on Washington to extradite Gulen. President Barack Obama last week insisted Turkey must first present evidence of Gulen's alleged complicity.

AAP