Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reportedly had a serious argument over the former’s short-notice coronavirus curfew announcement.
The ministers talked on the phone on April 11, a day after Soylu announced that a curfew will be imposed in 31 provinces on the weekend, pro-government Hürriyet columnist Hande Fırat reported on April 14.
Soylu announced on April 12 that 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.
He 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.
Since reporting its first coronavirus case on March 11, Turkish citizens have been staying home as a precaution in line with Health Minister Koca’s suggestions. The scenes of April 10 were also interpreted as a waste of a month long efforts.
Soylu’s resignation, however, was not accepted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to the columnist, Soylu was hurt by the fact that he couldn’t receive enough support from within the cabinet and felt that he was left alone.
Before announcing his decision to resign on April 12, he called Erdoğan to notify him, but the President said, “Continue working” and the subject was dropped.
Soylu then posted his resignation announcement on Twitter and turned off his cellphone as he headed to Istanbul from Ankara. Presidential team was not able to reach him then, the columnist said.
When they were able to reach him, Erdoğan told Soylu that he won’t accept his resignation.