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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Ill health keeps Ecevit from meeting
Bulent Ecevit
Mr Ecevit has so far ruled out his resignation
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit will miss a key meeting of military and political leaders due to his ill health, his spokesman has said.

Locals shop at Ankara market
Turkey has been struck by economic problems
Doctors have advised the 77-year-old leader, who has been hospitalised twice in the past month, that he is not fit enough to attend a National Security Council meeting, scheduled for Thursday.

The council is due to discuss key issues such as country's efforts to join the European Union and the future of the divided island of Cyprus.

Correspondents say that his decision is likely to fuel speculation that his illness may force him to step down.

Mr Ecevit has consistently ruled out resigning, arguing that the dissolution of the frail coalition which he holds together would spark political problems that could have a negative effect on the country's shaky economy.

Markets dip

Mr Ecevit is currently suffering from a broken rib and a vein infection in the leg, but the press has also suggested that he has Parkinson's disease and myasthenia gravis, a nervous system disorder.

Opinion polls suggest that were the coalition to collapse now and an election held, voters would most likely opt for the moderate Islamist party, the AKP.

The AKP has opposed intervention by the International Monetray Fund in Turkey, which has been suffering from the aftermath of an economic crisis in February of last year.

Turkish markets slid on Thursday after the news that Mr Ecevit would not be attending the meeting, dipping almost two percent.

See also:

17 May 02 | Europe
21 Feb 02 | Business
29 Apr 01 | Europe
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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