Several thousand people, among them trade union and civil rights supporters, demonstrated in Istanbul Saturday, March 31, with banners attacking the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the economic crisis.
Estimates of the numbers varied between 3,000 and 5,000. The unauthorized demonstration passed off peacefully, without police intervention. One banner read: "Down with the government, lackey of the IMF!"
Since February the country has been plunged into financial crisis after it allowed its currency, the lira, to float, causing it to lose some 30 percent against the dollar. Ankara is drawing up a new economic program after it abandoned its pegged currency rate and floated the lira.
The country appealed to the IMF in November for renewed help in a liquidity crisis, which resulted in several financially unstable private banks being placed under strict state control.
The economic crisis has forced the government to give up a stabilization plan started in 1999 with IMF help, and also to abandon a program to reduce inflation.
The IMF said Tuesday its future financial assistance to Turkey would be determined by the content of the new economic reform package.
Turkey's Economy Minister Kemal Dervis expressed optimism on Friday that Ankara would get foreign aid to overhaul its battered economy, and urged quick legislative action on a series of bills at the core of its recovery program. — (AFP, Istanbul)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)