Erdogan declares state of emergency in Turkey for three months

Turkey has declared a state of emergency across the country for three months in the wake of last week's bloody failed coup attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday in a live television broadcast.

"This practice is absolutely not against democracy, rule of law and freedom - the opposite. It has the purposes of protecting and strengthening these values," he said following lengthy National Security Council and cabinet meetings in Ankara.

Erdogan also tried to assure the Turkish public, saying there would be no restrictions of personal freedom and people should have "no concerns." He gave a nod to markets and foreign investors, saying economic reforms would continue.

"We will not compromise on financial discipline," he said, adding "there will be no liquidity problem."

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgraded the nation's credit rating by one notch and put the country's outlook on "negative."

"We believe the polarization of Turkey's political landscape has further eroded its institutional checks and balances," the agency said.

The lira has been dropping ever since the coup attempt, which began on Friday night and left more than 260 people dead and 1,500 injured. The Turkish currency was trading at about 3.09 to the dollar, down from 2.85 last week.

The government has blamed a group within the military along with other state officials as being behind the coup. In his speech Erdogan insisted the armed forces are now acting under the orders of the government.

The decision about the state of emergency will have to be posted in the Gazette, the government's publication of record, before it can officially take effect.

It will then be sent to parliament for review. A government official told dpa the legislative body, dominated by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), will meet Thursday. The AKP, founded by Erdogan, has the power to amend the state of emergency, and it can be renewed at a later date.

The last state of emergency in Turkey was lifted in 2002 in two provinces where it remained in force after having been in place in various areas of the south-east for 15 years.

Erdogan has said a "cancer virus" had developed within some state institutions and needed to be cleansed.

More than 50,000 civil servants have been fired, suspended or detained in the purge that followed the failed coup, including nearly 3,000 members of the judiciary. Also, 6,746 soldiers have been detained, including more than 100 generals.

The education system has been notably hard hit. The education ministry added on Wednesday another 6,538 to the list of 15,200 employees suspended a day previously, according to state media.

It also started proceedings to close down 626 educational institutions, including 524 private schools. In addition, 21,000 teachers at private institutions have had their licences revoked and 1,577 deans at universities resigned.

Turkish academics were instructed not to travel abroad on assignments, the Council of Higher Education announced, while those abroad should return, barring exceptional circumstances.

All political parties in Turkey's parliament rejected the coup attempt. Coup plotters used fighter jets and tanks to attack people and key institutions. Parliament itself was badly damaged.

But the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) voiced concern about reprisals against the opposition, with lawmaker Ziya Pir telling dpa that other factions "are afraid of being lynched."

Pir also charged that the anti-coup street protests have been in favour of Erdogan, rather than democracy, creating a "heated" mood in the country.

"Unfortunately, we are seeing a civilian counter-coup," he says, but stressing: "Thank God the coup was averted."

Government supporters have flocked to squares around the country, waving the Turkish flag. In some cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, many thousands gathered in front of large screens set up at key locations to hear Erdogan speak.

Turkey has demanded the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in self-imposed exile in the United States, claiming he was behind the coup attempt. Gulen, a one-time ally of Erdogan, denies involvement.

Turkey sent the US four dossiers on Gulen and has promised to provide ample evidence on his involvement. The US confirmed receipt of the documents but declined to say they constituted a formal extradition request. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday no one at the State Department had had contact with Gulen.

Pro-government protesters have called for the death penalty for coup plotters. Erdogan said Wednesday that if parliament passed a law reinstating capital punishment he would approve it even though this could be the death knell of Ankara's bid to join the European Union.

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