Military snub for Gul on first day

August 31, 2007, the Australian

ANKARA: Turkey's secularist army chiefs refused to salute the country's new Islamist-linked President, Abdullah Gul, on his first full day in office.

But Mr Gul had an easier time on his second engagement yesterday when he approved the new cabinet of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The cabinet has a mix of Islamist and secular figures, many with reformist backgrounds that signal the Islamic-oriented Government's commitment to winning entry into the European Union.

The 25-member cabinet, which includes eight new members, has strong business credentials and appears designed to project a moderate image.

"We will work for more freedoms and more economic welfare," Mr Erdogan said ...

As president, Mr Gul is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He attended the ceremony without his wife, Hayrunnisa, whose Islamic headscarf is seen by many Turks as flouting the secular nature of the republic, enshrined in the Turkish constitution ...

After his election victory, Mr Gul pledged to remain impartial and true to the country's secular ethos. Army brass, senior members of the judiciary and top academics snubbed the inauguration in a strong sign they are unhappy with his presidency.