Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that his party’s victory in local elections had given him a mandate to “liquidate” “traitors” who are behind a corruption investigation and the tapping of telephones of Erdoğan and his officials.
In December, prosecutors ordered the detention of dozens of suspects, including businessmen and the sons of Cabinet ministers.
Erdoğan accused Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally and leader of the Hizmet Movement, of orchestrating the graft scandal to undermine him and run a “parallel state”. The Prime Minister said:
March 30 (the local elections) is the day when the page was turned on tutelage, when the monuments of hubris were felled, and the privileges (of an elite) were lost forever.
The nation gave us a mandate for the liquidation of the parallel state. We will not have the slightest hesitation. We shall never forget the betrayal.
The movement of Gulen, who now lives in Pennsylvania in the US, says the Turkish government is already putting pressure on governments to close down its global network of schools. Government officials say Turkish embassies have stopped backing schools and business linked to Hizmat.
Erdoğan vowed, “(Hizmat) will answer before the courts. But not in front of their parallel courts; they will answer before the court of the nation,” Erdogan said.
The Prime Minister also railed against the “provocative headlines” of the media, “We will not forgive these kinds of vile acts, this treason.”
Erdoğan, who is barred from a fourth term as Prime Minister, is considering a run for the Presidency in August’s election and boosting the powers of the office.
“The responsibilities will be different after these elections. It will not be a president of protocol, but one that sweats, runs around, works hard,” he has said.
Meanwhile, the Government has responded to the corruption investigations and leaks of its conversations through dismissal or reassignment of thousands of police officers, tightening of control over the Internet, and blocking of blocked access to Twitter and YouTube.