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Turkish Economy Minister Joins Exodus from Ecevit Government - 2002-07-11

Turkish television is reporting that Economy Minister Kemal Dervis has quit the embattled government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.

If confirmed, the resignation would be the second crippling blow to the three-party ruling coalition in the past 24 hours. Turkey's popular Foreign Minister Ismail Cem made his resignation official earlier Thursday.

The departures are the second and third key resignations from the Ecevit government this week. Another deputy prime minister, Husamettin Ozkan, a key ally of the ailing Mr. Ecevit, quit Monday.

Five other cabinet members have also resigned, along with more than 35 other lawmakers.

Mr. Dervis, a former top official at the World Bank in Washington, drafted Turkey's multi-billion dollar economic recovery program last year to counter the country's deep financial crisis. Since then, he has been widely praised for his frank appraisals of the country's problems and his plans for fixing them.

There have been mounting calls for early elections to end the political uncertainties caused by Mr. Ecevit's prolonged absence from the public duties due to medical problems. The 77-year-old prime minister has refused to call early elections, despite his declining health.