Yilmaz Asks Army to Leave Islamists to Him

ANKARA (Reuter)–Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz urged his country’s military to leave a fight against Islamist activism to his coalition government.

"This issue is actually the government’s duty and our government is aware of this," Anatolian news agency quoted Yilmaz as saying on NTV television channel on Monday night.

Yilmaz said the army–key to bringing down the previous Islamist-led government–had its hands full with combating Kurdish guerrillas and ensuring nation security.

"The armed forces–which are already loaded with the heavy burden of defending the nation and fighting terrorism–do not have to make any special effort on (Islamist activism)."

Yilmaz replaced Islamist Necmettin Erbakan as prime minister in June at the head of a left-right coalition of secularists. Erbakan resigned under pressure from the generals after a stormy year in office.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said on Tuesday the ruling alliance was working in harmony despite a coalition ally suggesting he might quit in a row over bureaucratic appointmen’s.

Istanbul stocks ended down 1.33 percent on the political uncertainty.

"I don’t envisage such a thing. We are working in complete harmony with our Democrat Turkey Party (DTP) colleagues," Ecevit told a news conference when asked if faction leader Husamettin Cindoruk would quit the left-right government.

"It is an option for the DTP," Cindoruk told the NTV news television channel. He said his party would still support Prime Minister Yilmaz in parliament if it left the government.

The DTP has complained about lack of consultation by coalition partners when hiring and firing key civil servants.

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