Islamists lean towards Ciller


THE pro Islamic Welfare Party (RP) leader, Mr Necmettin Erbakan, moved into the driving seat yesterday in the race to form Turkey's next government, hinting at a coalition with one right wing party as talks with another began to founder.

Mr Erbakan, whose party is the biggest in parliament, refused to rule out the possibility of a coalition with the centre right True Path Party led by caretaker Prime Minister, Ms Tansu Ciller.

His comments came after Mr Mesut Yilmaz, leader of the Motherland Party which was working to form a coalition with Welfare, set a last minute condition on further talks which may torpedo hopes of that alliance.

Asked to comment on rumours that True Path wanted an alliance with the RP, Mr Erbakan said "all those parties would compete with each other for co operation with us, this is normal."

So far Ms filler has ruled out any coalition with the RP, but some newspaper reports suggested her aides were in contact with the party for a brief allied government to lead Turkey to early general elections.

Earlier, talks between the Motherland Party and the RP yesterday were postponed until today "for a better evaluation of the situation," despite both sides reaching a "broad agreement" on a coalition.

A senior Motherland official said Mr Yilmaz was insisting on the formation of a Motherland minority government before agreeing to an alliance with the RP.

Political analysts said the RP was disappointed by the condition and might prefer to co operate with Ms Ciller instead toward fresh general elections.

"Welfare is likely to increase its popular support in a new election," one analyst said.

"This is our pre condition: (that) the Motherland must set up a minority government with the support of Welfare from outside," the Motherland Party's deputy chief, Mr Ilker Tuncay, told a news conference.

"Our primary aim is to get rid of this government (of Ms Ciller). So, during coalition talks with Welfare, which will take some time, the standing government must be a Motherland government, not this one.

Asked if the adjournment of talks was an indication of something negative, the RP's deputy chairman, Mr Sevket Kazan, said: "It seems so, otherwise the meeting would not have been postponed."

The coalition would have brought an Islamic party into power for the first time since 1923.

Any alliance would likely be based on a rotating premiership. One scenario under discussion is that Mr Yilmaz would be prime minister for one year, followed by Mr Erbakan for two, and then Mr Yilmaz for one more year.

A compromise figure would be agreed for the final 12 months of the five year legislature.

Another issue is the division of ministries between each side.

The RP deputies are urging Mr Erbakan not to agree to a minority role.