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Turkish Intelligence Chief Resigns, Will Run for Parliament

FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shown at news conference in Riga in October, could have his hold on government strengthened if his ally Hakan Fidan is elected to parliament.

Turkey's intelligence service chief, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's closest allies, has resigned to run in parliamentary elections in June.

The resignation of Hakan Fidan, reported Saturday, adds to speculation that he could be poised to become Turkey's new foreign minister.

As head of the National Intelligence Agency, known as the MIT, Fidan has played a major role in peace talks with Kurdish militants aimed at ending their decades-long insurgency.

He has also been a figure in the power struggle between Erdogan and U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

If elected to parliament, Fidan could help cement the president's hold on the government.

A strong showing by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party in the June legislative elections could lead to a new constitution officially boosting presidential power.

Critics of Erdogan challenge his record on human rights and press freedom. Opponents also point to an opulent presidential palace he opened last year as a symbol of presidential excess and overreach.

In a rare move last month, Erdogan, who was prime minister for 11 years before his election in August, convened a Cabinet meeting, raising concerns among critics about what they saw as a power grab from what was once a largely ceremonial position.

Erdogan became the first president in more than a decade to chair a Cabinet session.

Current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the president was acting within the powers granted by the constitution.

Erdogan insists that as the first president elected by the people and not by parliament, he has more power — without making constitutional changes to Turkey's parliamentary system.

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