Spotlight: Turkey ends state of emergency declared after 2016 failed coup
ANKARA, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The state of emergency in Turkey has ended Wednesday midnight after it went into effect two years ago in the wake of the botched military coup in July 2016.
It will be replaced by a new set of security laws aiming to crack down on terrorist activities.
The termination of the emergency rule was promised by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his presidential campaign before his victory in the general elections in June.
Renewed for seven times previously by the parliament, the state of emergency expired automatically since the government did not extend it once again.
Erdogan has been re-elected as president for another five-year term, and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), along with its nationalist ally MHP (Nationalist Movement Party), maintains its majority in the parliament.
The coup attempt on July 15, 2016 has left 250 people dead and 2,000 others injured. Tanks rolled through the streets of Ankara and Istanbul, and warplanes buzzed overhead as rebel army sought to topple the elected government of Erdogan.
The state of emergency was imposed afterwards to purge a conspiracy led by U.S.-based exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers in the state apparatus.
Nearly 3,000 coup perpetrators have been sentenced to jail terms. The Gulen network is considered as a terrorist organization called FETO by Ankara.
Since then, the government has detained 160,000 people and dismissed similar number of public workers, academics and judges, banned dozens of organizations, seized businesses, and limited the independence of the judiciary.
Critics of Erdogan accused him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash all forms of dissent, while Turkey said the measures were necessary to maintain national security.
"We expect that tensions caused by the state of emergency will now disappear with some of our western friends. This period was crucial for purging terrorist elements who had infiltrated in many layers of our state apparatus," said a government source to Xinhua requesting not to be named.
Although the state of emergency is lifted, the Turkish government does not intend to give up its fighting against "circles who do not want a democratic Turkey to flourish," the source pointed out.
He revealed that the AKP has submitted a draft security law to the parliament which will be put into effect for three years after the expected approval next week.
In line with these new regulations, local governors have been given more power to decide on the removal of public employees in certain positions in the provincial institutions, if someone was suspected of "disrupting the public order."
For the next three years, the Turkish government will still be able to sack or dismiss public workers over charges of "terrorism" threats. The draft has also added rationales to ban demonstrations.
Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul insisted on Monday that even though the state of emergency was to end, it wouldn't mean the end of anti-terrorist combat.
"The ending of the state of emergency should not be deemed as ending the struggle (against terrorism). The fight against terrorism, the most persistent and determined fight against all kinds of terrorism, especially the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETO), will continue till the end," he said in a speech in Istanbul.
Experts believe that the lifting of the state of emergency will bring normalcy to Turkey which has been shaken to the core with the failed coup and the extraordinary events that followed.
"The end of emergency rule could open a new page in Turkey for better conditions and for the independence of the judiciary and the media," wrote political analyst and journalist Murat Yetkin in his regular column in Hurriyet Daily News.
The government has, however, warned that the emergency rule could be reinstated if deemed necessary.
"If we are faced with a very extraordinary threat, the state of emergency mechanism can be declared again," Ibrahim Kalin, the presidential spokesman, told reporters after the country's first cabinet meeting under the new presidential system last week.