Three lawmakers resign from Turkey ruling party over corruption scandal

ANKARA (AFP) - Three lawmakers including a former minister resigned on Friday from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) amidst a high-level bribery and corruption probe ensnaring close government allies.

The ruling party is being directed by "arrogance", said one of the lawmakers Ertugrul Gunay, who was a former culture minister, at a news conference, adding that he was parting ways with the AKP.

Another lawmaker Erdal Kalkan announced his resignation via Twitter. "This will not end here. Our honourable people see everything," he tweeted, referring to the corruption scandal that has involved the sons of former ministers and top businessmen.

AKP deputy Haluk Ozdalga also stepped down from the party.

The fast-moving inquiry has struck at the heart of Turkey's ruling elites and thrown up a serious challenge to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 11 years in power. It led to a comprehensive cabinet reshuffle after the resignation on Wednesday of three ministers whose sons were implicated in the probe.

Tensions are brewing over a dispute between Erdogan and followers of a former ally, influential Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen whose supporters hold key positions in the police and the judiciary.

Gulen has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999.

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