Turkish PM denounces 'plot' against Turkey's future

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is seen during a joint news conference with his Libyan counterpart Ali Zeidan (not pictured) in Istanbul, on Jan 3, 2014. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Islamist-leaning government is en
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is seen during a joint news conference with his Libyan counterpart Ali Zeidan (not pictured) in Istanbul, on Jan 3, 2014. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Islamist-leaning government is engulfed in a corruption scandal, on Saturday, Jan 4, 2014, called the political crisis a "plot" against Turkey's "future and stability" by rival forces. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Islamist-leaning government is engulfed in a corruption scandal, on Saturday called the political crisis a "plot" against Turkey's "future and stability" by rival forces.

At a luncheon in Istanbul with generally pro-government intellectuals, writers and journalists, Mr Erdogan reiterated his view that forces in Turkey and abroad are conspiring to oust him from power.

"What they wanted to do was an attempted assassination of the national will," he said in the televised address.

"They tried to carry out a judicial coup in Turkey.... But we are going to oppose this operation, this Dec 17 plot that targeted the future, the stability of our country," Mr Erdogan said.

Mr Erdogan's conspiracy charges are in reaction to a vast corruption investigation that led to the arrests on Dec 17 of key allies including high-profile businessmen and the sons of former ministers.

The prime minister was forced to reshuffle his cabinet and some lawmakers have resigned from his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The corruption scandal has also affected the economy with the Turkish lira currency at record lows against the dollar and shares tumbling on the Istanbul stock exchange this week.

Mr Erdogan on Saturday expressed confidence that Turkey would overcome its current difficulties. He pointed to municipal elections set for March as a test for the regime in upcoming presidential elections in August.

"We will not allow a cloud to be cast over Turkey's future," he said.

Mr Erdogan's government, in power since 2002, has accused loyalists of United States-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who wield influence in the police and judiciary, of instigating the corruption probe.

Mr Gulen, who left Turkey for the United States in 1999 after being accused of plotting to form an Islamic state, has denied involvement in the investigation.

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