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The BBC's Chris Morris in Istanbul
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The BBC's Andrew Walker
"IMF stands ready to support Turkey"
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Friday, 27 April, 2001, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Turkish energy minister resigns
Former Turkish Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer
Mr Ersumer denies allegations of bribery
Turkey's energy minister has resigned, the first major casualty of a corruption scandal that has wracked the country's economic and political worlds for two months.

The minister, Cumhur Ersumer, denied allegations of corruption but said that the accusations against him made it too difficult for him to continue in his position.

Earlier this week, fifteen officials and businessmen were charged with fraud in the allocation of state energy tenders.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank - which have just agreed a $10bn rescue package for the country - have pressed Turkey to stamp out endemic corruption.

Untenable position

Mr Ersumer, 48, is a senior figure in Motherland, a junior government coalition partner.

There have been calls for him to resign, including from within the government, since a prosecutor filed corruption charges against top officials in his ministry and businessmen in the energy industry.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit
Mr Ecevit may reshuffle his cabinet
Some witnesses cited in the indictment accused Mr Ersumer of encouraging underlings to award contracts to people now facing charges.

Mr Ersumer said on Friday that officials he fired bore a grudge against him.

"Mr Ersumer has not been involved in anything illegal. His bad luck stems from being at the top of an institution which was already full of monkey business," an unnamed aide told the Reuters news agency.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said Mr Ersumer planned to ask for his parliamentary immunity to be lifted and for a legal case to be opened against him.

The former energy minister sacked a number of his officials earlier in the year after an internal probe suggested that they cost the ministry $6m in a 1997 tender.

The resignation of Mr Ersumer, an important political player, may give Mr Ecevit the opportunity to reshuffle his cabinet.

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See also:

26 Apr 01 | Business
Turkey 'to win $10bn rescue package'
22 Feb 01 | Business
Turkish banks at root of crisis
22 Feb 01 | Business
Turkey's currency slides
06 Dec 00 | Business
IMF agrees Turkish loans
19 Feb 01 | Europe
Turkish political crisis deepens
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Turkey
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