|Turkish ministers resign over fraud probe||
Three Turkish ministers have resigned over a high-level corruption crackdown in which the sons of three cabinet ministers and renowned businessmen were arrested.
Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar announced their resignations on Wednesday.
Turkey has been shaken by three sensational corruption investigations last week that led to dozens of detentions and 24 arrests of people ranging from influential business leaders to senior bureaucrats and the ministers' sons.
Caglayan's son Salih Kaan Caglayan, Guler's son Baris Guler and Bayraktar's Oguz Bayraktar were among those arrested in the sweep, which Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, called a "dirty operation" to smear his administration and undermine the country's progress.
Erdogan Bayraktar, talking to Turkish television NTV on Wednesday, said that he was resigning his seat in the parliament along with his position in the cabinet.
Caglayan announced his resignation in a written statement on Wednesday morning, calling the investigations a "dirty set up" against Turkey and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Rejecting any wrongdoing during his time, he said that he was resigning in order to disrupt what he calls a "set up".
Guler told the semi-official Anatolia news agency that he told Erdogan of his intention to resign on December 17. He said that he submitted his official written resignation on Wednesday morning.
The government started reshuffling the Turkish police force hours after the investigation was revealed, moving dozens of senior police officers, including the Istanbul police chief, to passive positions over Ankara's claims of "abuse of office".
The investigations are widely believed to be linked to the recent tensions between the United States-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen's movement and Erdogan's AKP that, many analysts say, used to be allies in the past in a struggle against Turkey's politically dominant military.
The tensions, which have been festering for months, peaked after the government's plans to abolish private prep schools. Gulen owns a large network of such schools.
Erdogan recently said that those behind the investigations were trying to form a "state within a state", an apparent reference to Gulen's movement, whose followers are influential in Turkey's police and judiciary.
Turkey has flourished economically during the Islamist-rooted premier's three terms, though he has been accused of authoritarianism.
With international trading on hold for Christmas, the resignations were unlikely to have a strong market impact in Turkey. The lira had plunged to an all-time low of 2.0983 against the dollar on Friday but rallied to 2.0801 on Tuesday.
Police conducted raids last week and detained dozens of people suspected of numerous offences including accepting and facilitating bribes for development projects and securing construction permits for protected areas in exchange for money.
Erdogan, who has led Turkey since 2002 as the head of a conservative Islamic-leaning government, has described the probe as "a smear campaign" to undermine Turkey's ambitions to become a major political and economic power.
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