Turkish Minister Resigns Over Criticism of Weekend Lockdowns

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu resigned late Sunday, taking responsibility for a poorly timed announcement of a weekend coronavirus curfew that prompted thousands of people to rush into the streets.Soylu is one of the most senior figures in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.  In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Soylu said: “Responsibility for implementing the weekend curfew decision, which was aimed at preventing the epidemic, belongs entirely to me.”The 48-hour lockdown of 31 cities was announced just two hours before it took effect on Friday night. Thousands of people ran out to stores to stock up on goods, many without wearing mandatory face masks.  Images of large, closely-bunched crowds sparked criticism of the government’s planning for the lockdowns.Soylu, who was appointed interior minister in August 2016, said his “countless experiences should not have led to such scenes.”Turkey reported 4,789 more virus cases for a total of 56,956, including 1,198 deaths, as of Sunday.Soylu, 50, joined Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party in 2012, having switched from the center-right Democrat Party. Since then, he has risen to be viewed by some as a potential successor to Erdogan and as a rival of the president’s son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.

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