Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu declared late on April 12 on his Twitter account that he resigned, right after announcing that a curfew launched on April 10 at midnight would be suspended as of 12 pm on April 12.
His written statement contained words of self-criticism that went beyond the ruling AKP’s traditional discourse, taking responsibility for the disarray seen after he announced the curfew in 31 cities, including all 30 metropolitan municipalities across the country, only about two hours before the implementation would be valid.
“I am responsible in person of the practice of the curfew decision that was made only to prevent the spread (of the Covid-19 outbreak) as part of a process that has continued with very careful efforts. The scenes that were observed in limited hours at the start of the curfew did not match the process that has been managed perfectly,” he said, referring to a rush to bakeries and groceries for food and water after the announcement of the surprise curfew.
His ask for “apology” from the president is also interesting. It can be judged that President Tayyip Erdoğan was irked by the video images of the rush and Soylu’s statement earlier on April 12 to daily Hürriyet, who criticized himself for “failing to foresee” such a rush, but adding that the curfew order came from the president.
The rumors had already emerged after Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın told broadcaster CNNTürk at noon on April 12 on there was a “disarray” on April 10, as opposition parties had also asked for Soylu’s resignation.
Reading between the lines in Kalın’s statement
“The curfew issue was already on the agenda. We decided to implement it when needed in line with advice from the Science Board (of the government founded against the outbreak). The decisions on the issue will be made in accordance with the developments. On Friday (April 27), there was disarray. The necessary measures will be taken and such announcements will be made timely,” Kalın said.
His remarks can be interpreted as follows:
– The Science Board and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, who heads it, was already demanding a curfew.
– The president thought that it was “not necessary “but the rapid April 10 decision caused “disarray.”
– The expression that necessary measures would be announced “timely” signals a hidden criticism that the first curfew was not “timely.”
It appears that Soylu had convinced Erdoğan that it would be difficult to keep people at home on their own will at a weekend of a sunny weather.
After Erdoğan denies resignation…
Reports claimed after the declaration of the curfew that Minister Koca and the members of the Science Board were uninformed about the curfew beforehand and Koca difficultly convinced some members not to resign.
Rumors in Ankara’s policy corridors claimed Koca had told Erdoğan that he was uncomfortable with the decision.
Right after Soylu’s announcement, it was said in the political corridors of Ankara that Erdoğan would not accept his resignation. Those who rejected that said Ankara Gov. Vasip Şahin might replace him. But a statement by Fahrettin Altun, the Communications Director of the Presidency, made the difference only minutes before midnight. Altun said that Erdoğan found Soylu successful and thought he should continue as minister and Soylu would keep his post.
The resignation of Soylu would be the first major loss for the Erdoğan’s cabinet after the launch of the presidential governmental system. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Erdoğan’s election ally, had joined Soylu’s defenders after he faced criticism from inside the AKP. Rumors also said Soylu was one of the most successful minister in cabinet according to reported public surveys, results of which were not made public.
And now, Soylu has got even stronger both in the cabinet and the AKP. We will start observing the results of Soylu’s move and Erdoğan’s reaction to it starting from April 13.