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Monday, December 21, 1998 Published at 11:59 GMT

World: Europe

Turkey restarts search for government

Mesut Yilmaz: Accused of having mafia links

Turkish Prime Minister-designate Bulent Ecevit has formally abandoned attempts to form a new minority government.

He said he had informed President Suleyman Demirel that he was unable to gather enough support.

[ image: Mr Ecevit: Unable to form government]
Mr Ecevit: Unable to form government
He had been trying to form a coalition excluding Turkey's biggest party, the Islamist Virtue party, but was unable to persuade secularist party leaders to overcome their differences.

Virtue has said it wants to be allowed to form the next government.

However, the Turkish armed forces and secularist establishment view the Islamists with suspicion.

The Turkish president announced after his meeting with Mr Ecevit that he would now invite party leaders for another round of consultations before appointing a new prime minister-designate.

[ image: President Demirel: Faces choice]
President Demirel: Faces choice
If no government has been formed by 10 January, the president could appoint a prime minister to rule until polls are held. Early elections are scheduled for next April.

Parliament ousted the government of Mesut Yilmaz in a no-confidence vote on 25 November for alleged links with organised crime.

Deputies accused Mr Yilmaz, who has since been serving as acting premier, of entertaining ties with the mob and tampering with the sale of a state bank.

Chris Morris reports from Ankara: Ecevit tried and failed
Turkey has had a series of weak coalition governments since Tansu Ciller's rightist-led government fell from power in 1995.

Personal rivalries between political leaders have fragmented both the left and right.

Mr Ecevit, head of the Democratic Left party, tried in vain to form a coalition government with two rival centre-right parties - led by Mr Yilmaz and Mrs Ciller.

His efforts to make a minority coalition with outside backing for his party from parliament also failed.

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