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Turkey’s Erdogan approves new government

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday approved a new government formed by one of his most trusted allies, who immediately asserted his intention to institute constitutional reforms that would expand the powers of the presidency, the Associated Press reports.

Binali Yildirim, 60, formerly minister of transport and communications, replaces Ahmet Davutoglu, who stepped down on Sunday amid a range of differences with the president, including Davutoglu’s apparently less-than-enthusiastic stance toward an overhaul of the constitution to give the largely ceremonial presidency executive powers.

“We will immediately start work to achieve a new constitution, including a presidential system,” Yildirim told lawmakers of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in his first speech after taking office.

“Our priority is to make the constitution in harmony with the de-facto situation regarding our president’s ties to the people,” Yildirim said.

The new government — which Yildirim is widely believed to have formed in consultation with Erdogan — includes nine new names, although most ministers from Davutoglu’s previous Cabinet retained key portfolios.

They include Mevlut Cavusoglu, who remains foreign minister, and Mehmet Simsek, the deputy minister who heads economic affairs.

Volkan Bozkir, the minister in charge of relations with the European Union, was replaced by Omer Celik, a founding member of the AKP who is known to be close to the president. Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, kept his position as energy minister.

In a clear sign that Erdogan would continue to influence government, he was scheduled to chair the new Cabinet’s first meeting at his palace on Wednesday.

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