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Emergency rule ends in Turkey after two years

A Turkish soldier stands guard at the entrance to the Aliaga court and prison complex, in Aliaga, north of Izmir, July 18, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

A two-year state of emergency in Turkey that had been imposed nationwide after a failed coup in 2016 has expired, with Ankara deciding not to renew it.

The state of emergency, under which tens of thousands of people were arrested or dismissed from their jobs, expired late on Wednesday.

The government in Ankara imposed the emergency rule on July 20, 2016, and extended it seven times in three-month periods, facing widespread criticism from the opposition and rights groups.

During his campaign ahead of last month’s presidential and parliamentary elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to lift the state of emergency if re-elected but said the government would also introduce new counter-terrorism legislation and take tough action against any threat to Turkey’s security.

The proposed legislation, which is expected to be taken to the parliament next week, allows authorities to press ahead with mass dismissals of civil servants and hold suspects in custody for up to 12 days — instead of the maximum two-day period that had been law before the coup bid.

During the botched putsch on July 15, 2016, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and that the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt, which saw more than 250 people killed and 1,400 others injured, was, however, suppressed in a couple of days.

In this photo, taken on July 15, 2016, people are seen taking control of a tank near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, during clashes with rogue military forces in Istanbul, Turkey. (By AFP)

The Turkish government accuses the US-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen of having orchestrated the attempted coup. Gulen, a former Erdogan ally-turned-arch-foe, has denied the allegation.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 140,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

Ankara has called on the US to extradite Gulen, but the demand has not been taken heed of.

Turkish opposition figure Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, the US

The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.

Critics say the Turkish government has used the coup attempt to crack down on all dissent, in which opposition lawmakers, journalists, and political activists have been put behind bars.

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