Right Wing Schism Threatens Coalition

ANKARA (Reuter)–Turkey’s rival conservatives squabbled their way through talks about a planned secularist alliance on Tuesday–in a bitter feud that gives hope to the flagging Islamists.

Faction leader Tansu Ciller said she had refused to even consider an offer from prime minister-designate Mesut Yilmaz to forge an anti-Islamist government under his leadership.

"I did not discuss the government issue–so as not to legitimize Yilmaz’s position," Ciller told reporters after a 20-minute meeting between the pair.

Ciller–the caretaker deputy prime minister–says President Suleyman Demirel should have named her instead of Yilmaz to replace the pro-Islamic coalition that collapsed last week.

She heads a partnership with the Islam-based Welfare Party that is stronger in parliament than Yilmaz’s group.

A key leftist and a conservative splinter leader said they would back Yilmaz–but the anti-Islamists are still around a dozen votes short of the simple majority needed to win a confidence vote in the 550-member parliament.

Ciller accuses Yilmaz of trying to poach her parliamentarians. Aides said Tuesday’s meeting was stormy.

"You will never–ever win the confidence vote," a party source who witnessed the talks quoted Ciller as telling her rival. "Give the mandate back (to the president) immediately," she said.


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