Protests continue in Ankara ahead of PM's return

  • Thousands of protesters gathered in the Turkish capital on Thursday night as demonstrations continued against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP).

    Erdogan, who has been out of the country on a tour of North Africa, has maintained a tough stance towards the unrest.

    Speaking during a visit to Tunisia, Erdogan pledged to move ahead with plans for construction in an Istanbul park, which initially triggered the nationwide protests.

    Three people have so far been killed and more than 4,000 have been injured in the demonstrations.

    Erdogan returned home earlier this morning and is likely to be urged to apologize for the police crackdown and take action against those who ordered it.

    The affect of the protests has extended onto the main Istanbul stock index, which tumbled 8 percent before recovering to close down 4.7 percent on Thursday.

    The lira currency has also weakened to 1.8960 against the dollar.

    The unrest kicked off last Friday after trees were torn down at a park in Istanbul's main Taksim Square under government plans to redevelop the area.

    It later erupted into a protest against the AKP.

    The redevelopment includes the construction of a new mosque and the rebuilding of replica Ottoman-era barracks.

    Erdogan has blamed the main secular opposition party for encouraging the protests, which he claims are a bid to steer voters away from his party ahead of next year’s elections.

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