ISTANBUL (Agence France Presse)—Turkey’s Supreme Military Council began a crucial annual meeting Monday days after the shock mass resignation of the force’s top brass, the Anatolia news agency reported.
The meeting, which reviews the promotion prospects of senior officers, opened under the direction of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but in the absence of former army chief Isik Kosaner who dramatically resigned on Friday.
General Kosaner, as well as the heads of Turkey’s land, sea and air forces all stepped down over demands for the promotion of dozens of officers held in a probe of alleged plots to oust the government.
Tensions between Turkey’s fiercely secularist military and the government led by the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been building for years.
About a 10th of the army’s generals are in jail over an alleged 2003 coup plot—dubbed “Operation Sledgehammer” that AKP officials say was drawn up shortly after the party took power in 2002.
The suspects face 15-20 years in jail, though the case has been marred by serious doubts over the authenticity of some implicating documents.
General Kosaner had several recent meetings with Mr. Erdogan to lobby on behalf of the officers, insisting that they still benefit from promotions despite the pending charges, local media has reported.
After the mass resignations on Friday, Erdogan named as acting army chief General Necdet Ozel, who was serving as the head of the military police. General Ozel was also tipped to head the land forces.
The government on Friday announced six new charges against the implicated generals, relating to additional plots against the government and the creation of websites that distribute anti-government propaganda.
President Abdullah Gul, a close Erdogan ally whose 2007 election was met with fierce opposition from the military, is set to disclose the council’s decisions on Thursday.