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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has rejected Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's resignation late on April 12, shortly after the minister said he was stepping down following criticism of his decision to announce a two-day curfew against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic just two hours before it began.
"The holder of an office has the discretion to resign but the final decision belongs to our President. Our Interior Minister's resignation has not been accepted, he will continue his duty," Presidential Communications Directorate said, citing Soylu's "decisive fight against terrorism."
"Süleyman Soylu, who was appointed as the Interior Minister in the immediate aftermath of the July 15  coup attempt, has earned the appreciation of our nation for his successful work to date," it said.
"Mr. Minister’s decisive fight has played an important role in substantially reducing the capacity of terrorist organizations to carry out terrorist acts in our country. Likewise, through his persistent presence on the ground in the wake of natural disasters such as earthquakes, our Interior Minister has enabled strong coordination," the directorate added.
Announcement regarding Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s resignation statement.— Republic of Turkey Directorate of Communications (@Communications) April 12, 2020
Soylu announced the two-day curfew at around 10 p.m. on April 10, prompting thousands to go out on the streets to purchase food despite calls to stay home to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus.
The scenes of overcrowded bakeries and supermarkets were widely shared on social media, with many slamming the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for paving the way for such an incident that completely disregarded social distancing.
"During this process that has been carried out meticulously, the responsibility of this weekend-long curfew is mine with all its aspects. The scenes that occurred in the beginning, even though for a limited time, were not in line with this perfectly handled process," Soylu said in a tweet.
"My countless experiences shouldn't have led to such scenes in this incident that we are responsible for. It was a step taken with good intentions to halt the spread of the virus on the weekend," he also said.
Following Erdoğan's decision to reject his resignation, Soylu deleted his previous tweet and said that "he was humbled by the attitude of the people and the President."
"The fact that the chance to make up for our shortcomings was given by them increased our responsibility," Soylu said on April 13.
"We keep going at our people's service," he added.
Since reporting its first coronavirus case on March 11, Turkish citizens have been staying home as a precaution in line with Health Minister Fahrettin Koca's suggestions. The scenes of April 10 were also interpreted as a waste of a month long efforts.
When announcing the curfew decision, Soylu said that the process was being managed upon the orders of Erdoğan from its very beginning.Turkish Health Minister 'was not notified of curfew beforehand'
Earlier on April 12, Soylu replied to criticism, admitting that he couldn't foresee that people would flock to the streets.
"Limited accumulation took place in some areas. It's true. I couldn't foresee that. But, I don't think this very limited accumulation will cause a major problem," Soylu told daily Hürriyet on April 12.
Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, meanwhile, shared a picture of Erdoğan early on April 13, hours after the hectic night in Ankara.
Allah ömrünüze bereket, gücünüze güç katsın sayın Cumhurbaşkanım... pic.twitter.com/JdipIyPXmA— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) April 12, 2020
"May Allah add prosperity to your life and power to your power Mr. President," Altun said in the tweet.