Turkey PM opts for stability in light cabinet reshuffle

Ankara (AFP) –


Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday announced a lighter-than-expected cabinet reshuffle, avoiding major changes in a bid to send a business-as-usual message a year after the failed coup.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who is trusted by financial markets, remains in place but there was no recall of the liberal ex-economy minister Ali Babacan despite persistent rumours of a return.

"This is a blood change. Cabinet revision takes place occasionally when a change is needed," Yildirim said after a "surprise meeting" with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace in Ankara.

The major changes included Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag appointed as deputy prime minister and Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli chosen as the new defence minister, the premier announced.

Some analysts had expected a more far-reaching reshuffle including a possible change at the foreign ministry or even the elevation of the president's son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak to a top post.

There was, however, no reshuffle in major ministries with the current interior, foreign and energy ministers unchanged.

Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus has been appointed as culture minister.

Six new ministers will be in the cabinet including Julide Sarieroglu, a woman who has been appointed as labour minister, and Abdulhamit Gul as justice minister.

Sarieroglu's entrance means the cabinet now has double the number of women than before as she joins Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya.

The government appears to have wanted to give a signal of business as usual at a time of political turbulence just one year after the failed July 15 coup.

The cabinet reshuffle is the first after a key April referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers that the president narrowly won.

The constitutional changes allow the president to assume executive powers without cutting off ties with his party.

In the old system, the head of state was supposed to remain neutral.