Turkey PM tweaks cabinet, keeps economic team largely in place

By Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay


ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim kept the government's economic team largely in place during a limited cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, notably retaining economist Mehmet Simsek as a deputy premier.


Former justice minister Bekir Bozdag, who has overseen the sweeping crackdown that followed last year's failed coup, was made a deputy prime minister.


Speaking to reporters after meeting President Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace, Yildirim said 15 ministers kept their posts in the 26-member cabinet. Eleven ministers were either added or reshuffled.


Simsek, a figure widely respected by investors, was the only one of five deputy prime ministers to stay in the post. Naci Agbal stayed on as finance minister, while the economy, customs and development ministers also kept their positions.

"Simsek remaining as the one and only deputy PM in charge of the economy is positive, since it hints that sound policies and structural reforms might continue to be on the agenda," said Ozgur Altug of BGC Partners in a note to clients.

A former Wall Street banker, Simsek has been seen as a rare anchor of investor confidence in a cabinet stocked with politicians who favor -- like Erdogan himself -- encouraging borrowing to spur growth rather than focusing on savings and investor-friendly structural reforms.

Since last year Simsek shared some responsibilities with a fellow deputy prime minister, Nurettin Canikli, who had oversight of commercial lenders and capital markets.

It was unclear whether those responsibilities would be returned to Simsek in the new cabinet. Canikli was made defense minister.

The lira briefly eased to 3.5322 against the dollar after the announcement but soon recovered to its previous level around 3.5259.

Mevlut Cavusoglu kept his job as foreign minister and Berat Albayrak, Erdogan's son-in-law, remained as energy minister. Numan Kurtulmus, who had been a deputy prime minister and government spokesman, was appointed tourism minister.

A reshuffle had been widely expected since May, when Erdogan resumed his leadership of the ruling AK Party following an April 16 constitutional referendum giving him sweeping new powers. The changes had been anticipated in part with an eye on presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2019.

New deputy prime ministers include former Defence Minister Fikri Isik, former health minister Recep Akdag and Hakan Cavusoglu, a three-term lawmaker from the ruling AKP party from the northwestern province of Bursa.

The deputy prime ministers' portfolios were due to be released later in the day.

(Writing by Daren Butler and David Dolan; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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