Turkey in crisis as top two men row

Turkey was thrown into crisis today when the prime minister stormed out of a meeting after the president accused him of being "too passive" in the fight against corruption.

Turkey was thrown into crisis today when the prime minister stormed out of a meeting after the president accused him of being "too passive" in the fight against corruption.

Premier Bulent Ecevit said he was offended by the accusation and said his growing rift with the head of state was a "huge crisis".

Ecevit would not say what remarks by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer had offended him, but the rift immediately sent the Istanbul stock market into a 11.5% drop.

Markets fear that a political crisis could hamper Turkey’s IMF backed programme to reduce inflation.

It was reported that Sezer accused Ecevit of being "too passive" in the fight against corruption, of trying to prevent the inspection of banks and of "not being respectful" of laws.

Ecevit left the Ankara meeting even before Sezer had finished talking.

"At the opening of the meeting the President spoke in front of civil servants in a style that was beyond good manners, making heavy accusations against me," Ecevit said. "I could not have stayed there under such circumstances."

"This is a huge crisis," Ecevit said.

The government is known to be angered by Sezer’s recent move to appoint the state’s high-inspection board to probe transactions of state-owned banks in the last 10 years.

The government took over 13 troubled banks and financial institutions over the past 18 months. Allegations of corruption within the banks scared off foreign investors and led to a financial crisis in November.

Sezer, a former judge who has advocated greater democracy, has also vetoed a number of government decrees. Ecevit has made no secret of his anger at the vetoes.

The cabinet was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting this afternoon.

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