Turkey prosecutors launch probe as ruling party rift grows
ANKARA - Turkish prosecutors on Tuesday launched an investigation into Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc and Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek after the two traded angry accusations as a row within the ruling party widened.
Public prosecutors in Ankara launched the investigation into Arinc on charges of misconduct and covering up felony while they accused Gokcek of embezzlement and misconduct, private Dogan news agency reported.
The probe comes on top of a rift between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his own government in the run up to the June 7 elections where the ruling AKP will seek to change the constitution to give Erdogan's office more executive powers.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Ankara mayor Melik Gokcek, an Erdogan loyalist who has run the capital for 20 years, accused Arinc of serving the "parallel state", a reference to the Gulen movement, which the president claims plotted to overthrow him.
Arinc, who co-founded the AKP with Erdogan, hit back by bluntly calling the mayor "dishounourable" and "corrupt" and threatening to reveal his wrongdoings after the elections.
Prosecutors will first have to seek permission from the interior ministry to investigate Gokcek and apply to parliament to talk to Arinc, who has immunity.
Tensions between the government and Erdogan first emerged at the weekend over the handling of the peace process to end the decades-long armed struggle by Kurdish rebels.
Arinc told Erdogan to stop intervening in government business while the president said it was "my right and duty to voice my opinion" on the matter.
Erdogan, has already stretched the powers of the presidency since being elected last August after 11 years as prime minister, chairing two cabinet meetings and lecturing the central bank on its monetary policy.