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Moderate to be next Turkish president but tensions remain - Independent Online Edition > Europe

Turkey's governing party nominated a moderate as the man almost certain to become the country's next president yesterday, as it prepared to take over one of the most symbolic posts of the secular state.

Abdullah Gul, the Foreign minister, is regarded as a less confrontational figure than the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has angered traditional secularists with his Islamist policies and had been expected to stand for the job.

Mr Gul promised yesterday that, if elected, he would follow the country's basic secular principles. "The president must be bound by the basic principles of the constitution," the Foreign minister said.

But his candidature failed to defuse tension with Turkey's secular elite, including the country's powerful generals, which is alarmed at the prospect of the presidency falling to an Islamic-rooted party for the first time.

The main opposition party said that it would not take part in parliamentary voting for the next president and would appeal to the Constitutional Court if fewer than two-thirds of MPs vote.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:30:59 AM EST
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