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Rumors of Turkish deputy PM's departure spook markets

The Turkish lira took a tumble amid reports that Mehmet Simsek, the deputy prime minister in charge of Turkey's economy, had resigned.
Merchants chat in front of a currency exchange office at the historical Grand Bazaar, known as the Covered Bazaar, in Istanbul, Turkey, January 12, 2017. Picture taken January 12, 2017. To match Insight TURKEY-ECONOMY/LIRA-RETAIL       REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RC144ADC54F0
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There’s never a dull moment in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “new Turkey,” and today was no exception. Claims that Mehmet Simsek, the deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, had resigned sent the Turkish lira tumbling to record lows against the dollar and tremors through the political establishment. It didn’t help that presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin was unable to offer clarity when queried about Simsek’s status. “This is, for now, an allegation. There is nothing that came to us about this,” he said in a press briefing. Hours later Simsek took to Twitter to confirm he was still on the job — at an investor’s meeting in Istanbul — and that he would continue to serve “until our last breath.”

The tweet followed claims in the Turkish media that Simsek had offered his resignation to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. A source close to Yilidirim told Al-Monitor on condition of strict anonymity that the reports were true but that Simsek had been persuaded to stay on "for the good of the country and for the good of the cause.” The source explained that by “cause” he was referring to Turkey’s Islamist movement. “In conservative circles if one is perceived to have betrayed the cause one is labeled a traitor for good.” The source added, “There are many people who feel, like Simsek, that things have gone too far but stay out of a mix of loyalty and fear.” The source’s claims regarding Simsek’s abortive resignation could not be independently confirmed.

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