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Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Turkish PM rules out resignation
Bulent Ecevit
Ecevit: Said the government was functioning normally
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit says he no intention of resigning from his post because of the ill-health that has kept him from a number of key meetings.

He spoke to reporters at his home, in his first public appearance in almost a week.

"I have absolutely no intention of leaving my governmental duties and as long I hold the title of prime minister I do not have the right to abandon those duties," he said.

Mr Ecevit has been admitted to hospital twice in May, but he said that he had recovered completely from most of his health problems - that include neuromuscular disease, a cracked rib, spinal problems and an inflamed leg vein.

He added that the government was functioning normally and business was on schedule.

Economic crisis

The 77-year-old prime minister pulled out of a key government meeting on Friday called to discuss, among other things, the country's efforts to join the European Union.

Doctors had advised him against attending.

Turkish shoppers at a local market in Ankara
Turkey has been hit by economic problems

The decision fuelled speculation that his illness may force him to step down.

However Mr Ecevit has consistently ruled this option out, arguing that the dissolution of the frail coalition would worsen the country's economic crisis.

Turkish markets dipped sharply following the news that he was unable to attend the meeting.

Press claims

The Turkish press has claimed that Mr Ecevit's health problems are more serious than publicly acknowledged, and have suggested that he has Parkinson's disease and myasthenia gravis, a nervous system disorder.

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

The AKP has opposed intervention by the International Monetary Fund in Turkey, which is putting together a $16bn recovery package.

See also:

09 Jun 02 | Business
17 May 02 | Europe
21 Feb 02 | Business
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