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New Turkish cabinet almost certain to include former economy chief Mehmet Simsek

file photo: turkish deputy prime minister mehmet simsek speaks during a television interview after imfc plenary the imf/world bank spring meeting in washington
FILE PHOTO: Mehmet Simsek REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is viewed as almost certain to include former economy chief Mehmet Simsek in his new cabinet either as finance minister or as a vice president responsible for the economy, four senior officials said.

A key role for Simsek, highly regarded in financial markets as an orthodox manager, could signal a departure from a years-long unorthodox policy underpinned by low-interest rates despite high inflation and heavy state control of markets.

Erdogan’s office was not immediately available to comment, nor was Simsek.

Chairing his old cabinet for the last time on Wednesday, Erdogan is set to announce his new cabinet by Friday or Saturday, officials said, adding it is almost certain to include his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan.

The four officials who spoke to Reuters said no final decisions had been made and Erdogan could ultimately change his mind.

The officials said Erdogan was thinking of appointing Simsek as vice president, but that Simsek preferred to take a role directly in charge of economic policy and so could take the post of Treasury and Finance Minister.

Speculation about a possible role for Simsek accelerated after he held talks with the president on Monday. One of the sources, a senior official with knowledge of the subject, said Erdogan and Simsek had spoken for 2-1/2 hours on Monday.

“It was a pretty good meeting. Only a few points are being worked on. They will be completed in a short time,” he said.

The same official said former minister Cevdet Yilmaz could also take up the role of Treasury and Finance Minister if Simsek were to become a vice president. Another previous Treasury minister, Lutfi Elvan, was also expected to be put in charge of an economy-related ministry, the official said.

Erdogan won a landmark election runoff on Sunday despite a cost-of-living crisis and series of currency crashes that analysts say were largely brought on by his economic programme, which has kept foreign investors away.

In his post-election victory speech, Erdogan told his supporters: “We are designing an economy focused on investment and employment, with a finance management team that has international reputation.”

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