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Turkey Premier to Leave Hospital

May 26, 2002

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who has been in the hospital for more than a week, is scheduled to be released on Monday _ a day before his 77th birthday, an aide said.

Ecevit, who has been undergoing treatment for a fractured rib and a leg vein problem, was in good health and would be released in the afternoon, spokesman Cem Avci said Sunday.

Concerns over Ecevit’s health have sparked speculation about early elections, which could jeopardize Turkey’s recovery from a deep economic crisis. Markets fell sharply on May 17 after Ecevit was hospitalized for the second time in a month.

It was not immediately clear when the pro-Western politician would return to his office. Last week, Ecevit met with leaders of the three-party coalition government, which he is credited with holding together, in a hospital conference room.

Opposition parties have called for him to resign and announce early elections, a call the government has rejected.

Ecevit was admitted to Ankara’s Baskent Hospital on May 4 for intestinal problems and released the next day. He was readmitted on May 17 apparently after falling down while recuperating at home.

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