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Turkish minister removed in cabinet reshuffle in row over family contract

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has fired Ruhsar Pekcan, the country’s trade minister, as part of the latest Cabinet reshuffle after she confirmed allegations that a company in which she and her husband are partners was chosen to supply disinfectant to the ministry, local media reported on Wednesday.

Pekcan was fired after the release of a report by the Oda TV news website saying that Nanoksia Biotechnology – co-owned by Pekcan and her husband – was chosen for the supply of thousands of liters of disinfectant, allegedly worth TL 9 million ($1.1 million), to the Trade Ministry..

Pekcan on Tuesday released a written statement on the ministry website, confirming that the ministry procured the disinfectant worth TL 580,000 ($71,243) without holding a tender, insisting that the amount was “way lower than the average market price” for the disinfectant.

Although she denied any wrongdoing in the procurement, Pekcan on Wednesday was replaced by Erdoğan with Mehmet Muş, a prominent lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

According to a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday, Erdoğan also split the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services into two and appointed two new ministers to lead them.

The president replaced Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, the former minister for family affairs, labor and social security, with lawyer Derya Yanık as minister for family affairs and Vedat Bilgin, an advisor to Erdoğan, as minister for labor and social security.

By dividing into two the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services, which was formed in July 2018 when the Ministry of Labour and Social Services merged with the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, Erdoğan increased the number of ministries to 17, local media said.

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