10 Turkish opposition members resign over sex scandals
ANKARA - Six senior members of Turkey's second largest opposition force resigned Saturday, bringing to 10 the number of party members who have quit over sex tapes ahead of June elections, officials and reports said.
The six, among them four vice chairmen, quit both the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and the election race, the Anatolia news agency said, days after an obscure group calling themselves "Different Nationalists" threatened to publish compromising videos on the Internet.
Earlier this month, the group, which says it aims to purge the MHP of "scums," posted online secretly filmed images showing four other senior MHP figures engaged in extra-marrital affairs, forcing their resignation.
The scandal has fanned political tensions ahead of Turkey's June 12 general elections, in which the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) seeks a third straight term in power.
The MHP has alleged an AKP-backed plot to discredit the party and push it under the 10 percent threshold required to enter parliament.
The MHP is the target of "an AKP-sponsored assassination attempt aimed at the MHP's political existence," MHP deputy chairman Deniz Bolukbasi said in his resignation letter.
"The dark faces behind this ugly political plot, both at home and abroad, will come to light as part of the ongoing investigation," said Bolukbasi, a retired ambassador.
Prosecutors launched a probe into the affair after the first videos.
Pollsters predict an easy victory for the ruling party, which is seeking an overwhelming parliamentary majority that would enable it to make constitutional changes without the support of other parties.
Last year, Deniz Baykal, the veteran head of Turkey's main opposition, the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), resigned over a similar scandal after bedroom images of him and a CHP lawmaker were posted on the Internet.
Prosecutors have yet to find who filmed and published the compromising Baykal video, and he also alleged government involvement.