President Erdoğan appoints controversial top soldier as Turkey’s new defence minister

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed Gen. Hulusi Akar, the chief of general staff, known for his controversial role in a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, as the new defense minister, as he announced members of his new Cabinet after Turkey officially switched to a strong executive presidency.

Erdoğan also named his son-in-law Berat Albayrak treasury and finance minister in a 16-seat surprise cabinet with not many known bureaucratic figures hours after he was sworn into office on Monday.

According to a report by the Hürriyet Daily News, Erdoğan’s vice president is Fuat Oktay, former undersecretary of the Office of the Prime Minister, regarded as one of the architects of the bureaucratic and administrative transformation after the country’s system of governance was changed to an executive presidency through last year’s referendum.

Erdoğan opted to continue with current Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the new Cabinet. These figures, along with Albayrak, will have to resign from Parliament to join the Cabinet.

Erdoğan’s choice as trade minister is Ruhsar Pekcan, a businesswoman who has been serving as the deputy head for woman’s entrepreneurship at Turkey’s largest trade chamber and on the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK).

Mustafa Varank, one of Erdoğan’s closest aides, will serve as industry and development minister in the new Cabinet.

Undersecretary of the Energy Ministry Fatih Dönmez has been appointed energy minister, while Cahit Turan, former head of the Directorate of Highways, will serve as transportation and infrastructure minister.

Ziya Selçuk, the new education minister, has long served at the Education Ministry but is also the owner of a private college in Turkey.

Erdoğan took his oath of office in Parliament on Monday after re-election as the country’s president in elections on June 24. After his swearing-in, the system change, stipulated by a constitutional amendment which was approved in last year’s referendum, has gone into full effect.

Following an official inauguration ceremony at the presidential complex in Ankara, Erdoğan announced the list of ministers at a press conference. The ministers will take their oaths on Tuesday.

The full list of Erdoğan’s new cabinet is as follows:

Vice President: Fuat Oktay
Justice Minister: Abdülhamit Gül
Foreign Minister: Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Interior Minister: Süleyman Soylu
Defence Minister: Hulusi Akar
Treasury and Finance Minister: Berat Albayrak
Energy and Natural Resources Minister: Fatih Dönmez
Industry and Development Minister: Mustafa Varank
Commerce Minister: Ruhsar Pekcan
Environment and Urban Minister: Murat Kurum
National Education Minister: Ziya Selçuk
Health Minister: Fahrettin Koca
Transport and Infrastructure Minister: Cahit Turan
Culture and Tourism Minister: Mehmet Ersoy
Labor, Social Services and Family Minister: Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk
Agriculture and Forest Minister: Bekir Pakdemirli
Youth and Sports Minister: Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu

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