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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Turkish PM asked to quit
Bulent and Rahsan Ecevit
Mr Ecevit heads the party founded by his wife, Rahsan
Turkey's ailing Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, is for the first time facing calls from dissident MPs in his own party to resign .


The party, founded and developed by the Ecevits... must from now on continue its life without Ecevit

MPs' statement
Nine MPs from Mr Ecevit's Democratic Left Party (DSP) said in a statement on Tuesday that the 77-year-old leader's failing health risked causing political and economic instability.

The DSP was set up by Mr Ecevit's wife, Rahsan, in 1985, but has been led by Mr Ecevit himself since 1987.

"The party, founded and developed by the Ecevits in self-sacrifice, must from now on continue its life without Ecevit, but under the guidance of the Ecevits," said the statement, read out at a news conference.

"We believe the Ecevits will undertake this historic responsibility," it added.

Check-up

Mr Evecit has been under pressure from the opposition to step down as a long list of ailments have kept him away from the office since early May.

He has been suffering from intestinal problems, a vein infection, a cracked rib and a spinal injury - but has insisted he will remain in office, and that there will be no election until the scheduled date of 2004.

He is due to undergo a comprehensive medical check-up on Thursday after which his doctors will decide whether or not he can return to the office.

Markets have been nervous in recent weeks, with stocks falling, amid speculation that Turkey's three-party coalition government could collapse if Mr Ecevit's health forces him to quit.

Disharmony

A $16 billion crisis recovery programme could then be derailed.

The nine MPs' statement said Mr Ecevit's absence had "disrupted the harmony and consensus in government".

It added that some political parties had sharpened their positions - apparently a reference to the rightist Nationalist Action Party (MHP) which is resisting reforms Turkey must carry out in order to advance its bid for membership of the European Union.

The main stock index had been up more than 1% but ended the morning session down 0.06% after the statement.

See also:

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