Turkish PM Storms Out of Ceremony over Criticism

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost his temper during a ceremony Saturday, heckling a speaker who accused him of authoritarian tendencies before walking out of the room in fury.

The official ceremony, which was aired live on Turkish television, saw a visibly enraged Erdogan interrupt the head of the bar association Metin Feyzioglu, whose lengthy speech took several jabs at the government's performance.

"You are insolent. You are disrespectful. This is a completely political speech, packed with lies," said Erdogan, who rose from his chair in anger despite attempts by President Abdullah Gul to soothe him.

Feyzioglu, a young law professor and staunch critic of the ruling Islamist party, kept his cool during Erdogan's outburst and finished a speech that was met with applause by much of the attendance.

A fuming Erdogan eventually walked out of the Ankara hall where officials were gathered to mark the anniversary of the Council of State.

The incident came amid continued political tension in Turkey, where the ruling party won elections in March but has been rattled by division, corruption allegations and a string of street protests.

Erdogan, one of Turkey's most popular politicians, has been prime minister since 2003 and is expected later this year to run for the presidency, a largely ceremonial post.

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