Turkish authorities on Sunday ordered the dismissal of more than 18,500 state employees, including police officers, soldiers and academics, ahead of the expected end of a two-year state of emergency this month.
The Official Gazette said 18,632 people had been sacked including 8,998 police officers over suspected links to terror organisations that “act against national security”, in what could be the last of the purges under emergency rule.
Turkey has been in a state of emergency since the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but the European Union and critics have repeatedly called on Ankara to end it.
Turkish media dubbed Sunday’s decree as the “last”, with officials indicating the government could declare emergency rule over as early as Monday.
The latest period is officially due to end on July 19.
Critics say Erdogan is using the extra powers permitted under emergency rule, renewed seven times, to target opponents, with human rights defenders including Amnesty International lambasting the purges as arbitrary.
But the government says they are necessary to remove multiple terror threats inside state institutions.
Erdogan on Monday will be sworn in as president after his outright victory in June 24 elections under a new executive presidency, following that there will be a lavish ceremony and then the new cabinet will be announced.
The current parliamentary system will end on Monday after constitutional changes were approved in a 2017 referendum.
During the election campaign, pushed by his opponents’ promises including his main opposition rival Muharrem Ince, Erdogan vowed to lift the state of emergency if he was re-elected.
“The new government will be announced on Monday, the cabinet will start to work and the state of emergency will be completed,” outgoing Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said last week, although he reiterated that the latest extension was due to end mid-July.