3 Lawmakers Resign from Turkey Ruling Party as Army Says Won't Get Involved in Crisis

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Three lawmakers including a former minister resigned Friday from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) amidst a high-level bribery and corruption probe ensnaring close government allies.

The ruling party is being directed by "arrogance," said one of the lawmakers Ertugrul Gunay, who was a former culture minister, at a news conference, adding that he was parting ways with the AKP.

Another lawmaker Erdal Kalkan announced his resignation via Twitter. "This will not end here. Our honorable people see everything," he tweeted, referring to the corruption scandal that has involved the sons of former ministers and top businessmen.

AKP deputy Haluk Ozdalga also stepped down from the party.

The fast-moving inquiry has struck at the heart of Turkey's ruling elites and thrown up a serious challenge to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 11 years in power. It led to a comprehensive cabinet reshuffle after the resignation on Wednesday of three ministers whose sons were implicated in the probe.

Meanwhile, the Turkish military said it would not get involved in the political turmoil sparked by the corruption probe.

"The Turkish Armed Forces do not want to get involved in political debates," the military said in a statement posted on its website.

The statement came after a close aide of Erdogan, Yalcin Akdogan, wrote in his column in a pro-government newspaper that the corruption scandal could be a setup to trigger a military coup.

The army said it would stay away from the political debates and continue to perform its duties defined by law and the constitution.

The military, which sees itself as the guarantor of Turkey's secular principles, has carried out three coups -- in 1960, 1971 and 1980, -- and pressured an Islamist government to step down in 1997.

But since coming to power in 2002, the government of Erdogan's Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) has reined in the once-powerful military with a series of court cases.

Dozens of active and retired officers have been convicted since 2008 over alleged plots against the government.

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