Turkish Center-Right Party Swaps Leader

Sunday, December 15 2002 @ 10:48 am UTC

ANKARA, Turkey--The center-right Turkish party True Path has chosen a former interior minister as its new leader, replacing ex-premier Tansu Ciller, who took a beating in recent elections. At a party congress Saturday, Mehmet Agar was acclaimed as the new leader. Ciller, who was Turkey's first and only woman to serve as premier, resigned after Nov. 3 elections in which her party failed to clear the 10 percent threshold required to win seats in Parliament. An Islamic-rooted party swept the polls and formed Turkey's first majority government in 15 years. The U.S.-educated Ciller took over as head of the party in 1993 after Suleyman Demirel, the party's founder, resigned to become Turkey's president. Ciller was last prime minister in 1996. She later served as deputy premier in a coalition formed by a pro-Islamic party. That government was pressured out of power by Turkey's military, which is intent on keeping the nation secular.

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