Turkey’s interior minister says resigns over short-notice coronavirus lockdown


Istanbul (Reuters) – Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Twitter on Sunday that he was resigning from his post over the implementation of a two-day curfew in major Turkish cities to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Turkey announced the weekend lockdown late on Friday, but in the brief time before it went into effect many people rushed out to buy food and drink in the country’s commercial hub Istanbul, a city of 16 million people, and other cities.

“Although in a limited period of time, the incidents that occurred ahead of the implementation of the curfew was not befitting with the perfect management of the outbreak process,” Soylu said in his statement.

The lockdown decision was taken with good intention and aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus, he said. The lockdown will end at 2100 GMT on Sunday.

Turkey’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen above 1,100, with more than 50,000 confirmed cases since first patient diagnosed a little over a month ago.

If his resignation is accepted by President Tayyip Erdogan, Soylu would be the second Turkish minister to leave his post since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Transport minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan was removed two weeks ago after the ministry drew criticism for holding a tender amid the outbreak to prepare to build a huge canal on the edge of Istanbul.

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