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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yilmaz Takes Over As Turkish Premier

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on Monday approved a secular government to replace the country's first Islamist-led cabinet, which resigned under army pressure two weeks ago.

Mesut Yilmaz, whom Demirel had asked to form the cabinet, officially became prime minister and will head a coalition of his conservative Motherland Party and two parties from the left and right.

The 38-member cabinet "was formed to rescue the country from the crisis the previous government caused and to strengthen the secular and democratic republic," said Yilmaz, who has served briefly as prime minister twice before.

Yilmaz's cabinet is now poised to win a parliamentary vote of confidence in early July following a wave of defections by deputies from Tansu Ciller's True Path Party, a partner in the Islamist-led government.

His government is tasked with reversing what is perceived as the country's creeping Islamization orchestrated by the coalition headed by outgoing Islamist prime minister Necmettin Erbakan.

Bulent Ecevit, 72, who heads the staunchly secular Party of the Democratic Left, or DSP, which opposes the Islamists, and the Party for a Democratic Turkey's Ismet Sezgin, 69, will become deputy premiers, the semi-official Anatolia news agency said.

Sezgin will also serve in the key post of defense minister.

DSP member Ismail Cem will serve as finance minister and his fellow party members Zekeriya Temizel and Istemihan Talay will head the finance and culture ministries respectively, held by Islamists in the previous coalition.

Motherland Party members now head the ministries of justice, interior and energy, while two women and an independent were also appointed to the government.

Foreign Minister Ciller was Erbakan's principal coalition partner, and had put herself forward to stand in for the outgoing premier with a view to holding fresh elections later this year.

Erbakan's June 18 resignation had averted what some observers warned was an imminent coup by the military, which regard itself as the guarantor of the country's secular constitution.

Erbakan, who took office on June 28 last year after forging an alliance with Ciller, became the first Islamist prime minister of the Turkish republic.