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Turkish Party Re-Elects Ciller

November 20, 1999

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Turkey’s True Path Party re-elected the former premier as its leader Saturday after a tense party congress in which rival factions pushed, punched and insulted each other.

Delegates stuck with Tansu Ciller despite a poor showing in April elections, when the center-right party received 12 percent of the votes and dropped to the fifth-largest party in parliament.

On Saturday, Ciller received 922 of the 1,228 votes cast by delegates. Her closest rival, Koksal Toptan, a former education minister, received 280.

Police formed a human chain around the ballot boxes to protect them from any attacks after supporters of the two main candidates engaged in fist fights.

Ciller, a U.S.-educated economist, served as Turkey’s first woman prime minister from 1993 to 1996, when she enjoyed a huge following. Her popularity was hurt by allegations of corruption and an ill-fated government alliance with an Islamic party that was pressured out of power by the military.

It was the third time her party elected her to the leadership.

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