Ankara's power puzzle


The following is a chronology of the main events leading up to the appointment of Mr Yalim Erez as Turkey's prime minister-designate.

June 18th, 1997: Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, under army pressure, asks President Suleyman Demirel to hand power to his coalition partner, Mrs Tansu Ciller.

June 20th: Mr Demirel angers Islamists by giving a mandate to the main opposition Motherland Party leader, Mr Mesut Yilmaz.

June 30th: Mr Yilmaz takes over as prime minister at the head of a left-right coalition united on an anti-Islamist agenda.

July 12th: The Yilmaz coalition wins a vote of confidence.

August 16th: Parliament passes a bill to curtail Islamic education, sparking nationwide anti-government demonstrations.

August 22nd: Mr Yilmaz says he favours polls in late 1998.

October 10th: He says polls are likely in 2000.

December 14th: The EU puts Turkey's entry application on hold. Turkey says it will cut political dialogue with the Union.

March 20th: Left-wing leader Mr Deniz Baykal, who backed the coalition on key votes, says the government is effectively finished and the army warns Mr Yilmaz against going soft on Islamic activism.

April 23rd: Mr Baykal says he has agreed with Mr Yilmaz to hold elections in March 1999.

April 27th: Mr Yilmaz calls on Mr Baykal to reconsider the polls plan after widespread criticism from his coalition partners.

June 3rd: Mr Yilmaz strikes a new deal with Mr Baykal under which he will resign as premier at the end of 1998 so that an interim government can rule until elections in April 1999.

June 16th: Mr Yilmaz signs the polls deal with Mr Baykal.

July 30th: Parliament approves April 18th, 1999 as the date for early polls.

August 4th: Businessman Mr Korkmaz Yigit's $600 million bid is the highest in a tender to buy Turkbank from the central bank.

October 14th: The sale of Turkbank is suspended pending investigation of corruption charges.

October 22rd: Turkey says Syria has stopped aiding Kurdish rebels following Turkish threats of military force.

November 10th: Mr Baykal calls for Mr Yilmaz to resign after Mr Yigit alleges corruption in the Turkbank sale.

November 12th: Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan is arrested in Rome, leading to a dispute with Italy over his fate.

November 25th: Mr Yilmaz loses a censure vote on alleged corruption in the Turkbank sale, ending his government.

December 2nd: Mr Demirel nominates Mr Ecevit to form a government.

December 21st: Mr Ecevit abandons his search and returns the mandate to Mr Demirel.

December 23rd: Mr Demirel mandates Mr Yalim Erez to form a government.