29 Dec 2013

Turkish PM adamant he won't stand down

6:43 am on 29 December 2013

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey says he will not step down amid corruption accusations that have forced the resignations of three cabinet ministers.

Their sons were among 24 people detained in dawn raids in Istanbul and Ankara on 17 December as part of a corruption inquiry. Police are investigating accusations of illicit money transfers to Iran and bribery for construction projects.

In response to rumours of a coup plot, the Army said in a statement on Friday it does not want to get involved in political arguments.

At a rally late on Friday, Mr Erdogan pledged to fight on. The BBC reports he called the investigation a "smear campaign" and urged supporters to vote for his party in local elections next month.

"Those who call it a corruption inquiry are corrupt themselves," he said.

Turkey has a history of military takeovers but the BBC reports its power has been curbed during Mr Erdogan's decade in power.

Commentators in Turkey believe the scandal stems from a power struggle between the government and Fethullah Gulen, a cleric in the United States who is said to have many followers within the police and judiciary.

The BBC reports supporters regard the Hizmet movement inspired by Mr Gulen as the modern face of Islam, but critics question its motives.