The ruling party gave its presidential nomination Tuesday to Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, a leader with Islamic leanings who will have to balance the interests of Turkey’s religiously conservative countryside with its secular business and military elite.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Gul’s candidacy to the cheers and applause of party members, whose support in a series of Parliament votes that begin Friday is expected to secure him the post. The job is largely ceremonial, but the president has veto power.
The selection followed months of political tension over whether Erdogan would run for president, a prospect that infuriated secularists who felt he might use his Islamic credentials to dilute the nation’s secular traditions.
Gul, who is a close political ally of Erdogan, sought to ease those concerns. Both men have rejected the label of Islamist, citing their promotion of sweeping reforms as a means of advancing Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
However, Gul is unlikely to be free of controversy. His wife, Hayrunisa, wears the traditional Muslim head scarf, and secularists like current President Ahmet Necdet Sezer recoil at the idea of such a religious symbol being worn in the presidential palace.
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba
Canadian charged in soldier’s death
The U.S. military filed a murder charge Tuesday against the Canadian son of an alleged al-Qaida financier, who was captured at age 15 in Afghanistan and has spent almost five years at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Omar Khadr, now 20, allegedly joined the Taliban in Afghanistan and threw a grenade that killed a U.S. Green Beret soldier in July 2002. He was captured as he lay wounded after that firefight, at an al-Qaida compound in eastern Afghanistan.
The U.S. military charged him with murder, attempted murder, providing support to terrorism, conspiracy and spying under rules for military trials adopted last year and first used to try David Hicks, the Australian sentenced to nine months in prison after pleading guilty.
Khadr’s Pentagon-appointed defense attorney, Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, said the United States would become the first country in modern history to try a war crimes suspect who was a child at the time of the alleged violations. The conspiracy charge is based on acts allegedly committed when Khadr was younger than 10, Vokey said.
From wire reports