Turkey will announce emergency measures on Wednesday to try to stabilize the country and prevent damage to the economy as it purges thousands of members of the security forces, judiciary, civil service and academia after an abortive coup.
One of the ruling AK Party’s most senior figures, Mustafa Sentop, a close ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, said the constitution allowed for a state of emergency to be declared, though he said he did not know if such a step would be taken.
Speaking live on broadcaster NTV, he said any state of emergency would last up to six months and would not affect citizens’ lives. He also called for the restoration of the death penalty for crimes aimed at changing the constitutional order.
About 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended, detained or are under investigation since Friday’s military coup attempt. The failed putsch and the purge that followed it have both unsettled the country of 80 million, which borders Syria’s chaos and is a Western ally against ISIS.
The lira, national currency, fell to a record low after ratings agency Standard & Poor’s cut Turkey’s foreign currency credit rating, citing the fragmentation of the political landscape and saying it expected a period of heightened unpredictability.
Academics were banned from travelling abroad on Wednesday in what a Turkish official said was a temporary measure to prevent the risk of alleged coup plotters in universities from fleeing. State TRT television said 95 academics had been removed from their posts at Istanbul University alone.
“Universities have always been crucial for military juntas in Turkey and certain individuals are believed to be in contact with cells within the military,” the official said.
Erdogan blames a network of followers of a U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, for Friday night’s attempted coup, in which more than 230 people were killed as soldiers commandeered fighter jets, military helicopters and tanks to try to overthrow the government.
Erdogan, who has led Turkey as prime minister or president since 2003, has vowed to clean the “virus” responsible for the plot from all state institutions.
He chaired a meeting of the National Security Council for nearly five hours on Wednesday. A statement on its conclusions, expected to include a series of emergency measures, would be made after a cabinet meeting which he also chaired in his palace, presidency sources said.