Turkey coup: President Erdogan texts 68 million people in fresh call for protests

Turkish president has declared a state of emergency and vowed to 'reorganise' the army

Caroline Mortimer@cjmortimer
Friday 22 July 2016 10:57
Supporters of Erdogan rally in Taksim Square

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged all Turks to stay on the streets as he continues to purge state institutions following last week’s attempted coup.

Mr Erdogan issued an appeal via text message to 68 million people urging them to not “give up on the resistance for your country, land and flag”.

He told them: “Resistance and the watch of democracy goes on to teach traitors and terrorists a lesson”, The Times reports.

Parts of the Turkish army blockaded bridges on the Bosphorus river and took over state media in a bid to oust the president, on Friday night.

But thousands of civilians took to the streets to block the army after a plea from Mr Erdogan during a FaceTime interview broadcast by a private news channel during the coup.

The death toll from the night of violence has now reached more than 200.

Huge rallies have continued to take place on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara every night as the public pledges support for Mr Erdogan.

It comes as Mr Erdogan gave his first interview since declaring a state of emergency in the country.

He said he was told about the attempted coup by his brother-in-law while he was holidaying with his family in the Mediterranean resort of Marmaris.

He was initially unable to reach the head of the armed forces or the head of the national intelligence agency before finally getting through to the prime minister.

When he received reports that supporters were responding to his call to take to the streets he decided it was time to attempt to get to Istanbul to restore order.

He said: "It became clear to me that I had to move, it was no longer necessary for me to stay put".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he will 'reorganise' the military in response to the coup (AFP/Getty Images)

Eventually Mr Erdogan was able to land in Istanbul but it was later revealed his plane had been in danger of being shot down by rebels before the pilot disguised it as a civilian aircraft to hide it from the radar.

Following the coup Mr Erdogan said the military would be “reorganised” and a meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAS), the body which oversees the armed forces, is likely to be brought forward a week to oversee the restructuring.

He said: "They are all working together as to what might be done, and ... within a very short amount of time a new structure will be emerging. With this new structure, I believe the armed forces will get fresh blood.

"After all that has come to pass, I think they must now have drawn very important lessons. This is an ongoing process, we will never stop, we will continue very actively, we have plans."

Mr Erdogan said a new coup attempt was possible but it would not be easy for plotters because they were "more vigilant" now.

The president, who has run the country since 2002, has vowed to rid state institutions of supporters of a US-based cleric, Fethullah Gullen - who Mr Erdogan blames for the attempted coup - saying the movement will be treated as “another separatist terrorist organisation”.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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