Erdogan sacks minister in row over family contracts

22 April 2021 | International

AFP

Istanbul

Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday sacked his trade minister after she was accused of awarding lucrative contracts to companies headed by her husband.

The replacement of Ruhsar Pekcan with influential AKP ruling party member Mehmet Mus was announced without an explanation in the official government newspaper.

But it came just days after the publication of articles on the OdaTV website implicating the former minister.

The stories accused Pekcan of awarding two companies run by her husband contracts for the purchase of disinfectant products worth nine million liras -- more than one million dollars at the current exchange rate.

Pekcan confirmed the purchase on Tuesday but argued that the companies were chosen "in compliance with the rules" and based on price.

Her sacking comes as public discontent mounts with the Turkish government's overall handling of the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Erdogan's overhaul of his economic team in November temporarily helped the Turkish lira recover from historic lows against the dollar and euro.

But the lira's troubles resumed after Erdogan replaced a market-friendly central bank chief he had appointed in that reshuffle with former ruling party lawmaker Sahap Kavcioglu last month.

The November government changes also saw Erdogan's powerful but controversial son-in-law Berat Albayrak part with his finance ministry post.

Economists believe that rumours of Albayrak's imminent return to the government have also dented foreign investor confidence and hurt the lira.

But Erdogan's decree on Wednesday only mentioned the split of the family and labour ministry into two and the appointment of their new heads.

Both new ministers come from Erdogan's ruling party.

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