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Turkish Prime Minister Warns Military to Stay Out of Politics

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the army to stay out of politics.

Mr. Erdogan made the comment to Turkish television, Kanal D, late Monday, following the start of presidential balloting in which Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is expected to be elected.

In other news, the Turkish army Tuesday denied media reports that it reached a secret agreement with Gul over his candidacy, saying it would never bargain with any individual or any institution on any issue.

This is Gul's second bid for the presidency. His candidacy earlier this year sparked a political crisis, with the military threatening to intervene to defend secular government. The crisis forced general elections in which Gul's party, the ruling Justice and Development Party, won the majority of seats in parliament.

Secularists fear that Gul's Islamist past, coupled with the leadership of Mr. Erdogan, would weaken Turkey's separation of state and religion.

In the first round of voting in parliament Monday, Gul failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required for a first round win. But he is expected to emerge victorious in the third round of voting, when only a simple majority in the 550-seat chamber is needed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.