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Turkey military council orders retirement of held generals
by Staff Writers
Ankara (AFP) Aug 4, 2012

Turkey's top military council on Saturday ordered the retirement of dozens of generals and admirals who are currently being held on charges of coup plotting, the army announced on its website.

Fifty-five generals and admirals are required to retire due to a lack of vacancies in their positions, and one admiral due to an age limit as of September 1, the army said in an online statement.

Among them were 40 generals and admirals in detention in connection with several probes, including the so-called Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases into alleged plots to topple the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reported local media.

The jailed generals had been awaiting promotion after it was suspended at last year's meeting. But the military council's statement said the one-year waiting period for the generals had expired, ordering their retirement instead.

The latest announcement comes as the Supreme Military Council (YAS) began its meeting on Wednesday to discuss promotions and dismissals within the army. The decisions were made public Saturday after being approved by the president.

This year's YAS meeting however ended without the tensions that marred last year's gathering which saw the shock mass resignation of the country's top brass in a row with the government over officers jailed for alleged coup plots.

Veteran journalist Fikret Bila said the retirement of arrested generals and admirals was the government's preference.

"We see the government's preference being implemented," said Bila speaking to the private NTV television.

"Some of the arrested generals might be released amid the ongoing trials but the decision on their retirement shows they are being dismissed from the army before the cases are concluded," he commented.

The order for retirement is considered the latest blow to Turkey's beleaguered officer corps who are the target of a series of probes launched in recent years into past military interventions and alleged coup plots.

Hundreds of suspects, including several senior retired and active duty officers, as well as journalists, lawyers and politicians, are separately being tried over their alleged role to topple the Islamic-rooted government.

The trials are widely seen as part of an effort by the current Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to roll back the military's influence in politics.

But critics accuse Erdogan's government of launching the probes as a tool to silence its opponents and impose authoritarianism -- charges it denies.

The Turkish army, which sees itself as the guarantor of Turkey's secular principles, overthrew three earlier administrations in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

And in 1997, it pressured an Islamic-leaning prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, to step down. Erbakan was the political mentor of Erdogan.

The military council also appointed Gen. Galip Mendi as new commander of the Second Army, which is based in southeastern Malatya province and responsible for protecting Anatolia from any outside threat emanating from Syria, Iran and Iraq.


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