Turk PM in hospital after fainting during Ramadan

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was taken to hospital on Tuesday after fainting while keeping the Muslim fast of Ramadan, but doctors said there was no need for concern.

Turk PM in hospital after fainting during Ramadan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been hospitalised after he fainted due to exhaustion and fasting, officials and doctors said, adding that he was basically in good health and likely to be discharged soon.

Erdogan, 52, fell ill around 11 am (0800 GMT), just before he was due to appear before the parliamentary group of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament and was immediately rushed to a private hospital by his bodyguards.

A practising Muslim, Erdogan follows the dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy month of Ramadan which began on September 24.

"There was a drop in (Erdogan's) blood sugar due to exhaustion and fasting," Tevfik Ali Kucukbas, chief doctor at the Guven Hospital, told reporters.

"We will keep him under observation for a while. There is nothing worrying in his vital functions," Kucukbas said.

Erdogan, who does not drink alcohol or smoke, is generally known to be in good health.

His spokesman said the leader was likely to be discharged soon

"I do not think he will stay in the hospital overnight," Akif Beki told AFP.

AKP deputy chairman Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat said that Erdogan had fainted due to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, but was now fine.

"He has regained consciousness and there is no threat to his life," he told reporters outside the hospital.

Eyewitnesses said Erdogan was unconcious when he was brought to hospital and bodyguards had to break a window of his armoured vehicle to get the prime minister out after they accidentally locked him in.

"The prime minister's car roared in front of the hospital. The driver was unable to open the door and there was great panic," former tourism minister Irfan Gurpinar, who happened to be at the hospital to see his newborn grandchild, said.

"One of the bodyguards brought a sledgehammer and another brought a chisel and they broke the left front window and opened the door," Gurpinar said.

Another witness, Mehmet Goksu, told the NTV news channel that Erdogan was immediately put on a strecher and taken inside the hospital as medics and bodyguards scrambled to keep his mouth open.

Erdogan had been due to address members of his ruling centre-right AK Party in parliament. The meeting was canceled.

"He has been working very hard in the last few days," Deputy Prime Minister Abdulatif Sener told reporters, adding that he expected Erdogan to be discharged from hospital on Tuesday.

Television showed pictures of Erdogan, fully dressed, speaking with doctors in the hospital.

A senior AK Party lawmaker, Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, said Erdogan had fallen ill while sitting in his limousine. His bodyguard and driver had been forced to smash a window of the vehicle after its doors locked automatically with Erdogan inside and apparently incapacitated, Firat said.

Erdogan, a former professional soccer player, is physically fit and follows an active regime. In the past few weeks alone, he has visited the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia.

A pious Muslim, he fasts during the holy month of Ramadan which ends next weekend.

POLITICAL SKILL

Analysts said the incident, while apparently minor, did raise the question of who might replace Erdogan if he were seriously incapacitated.

"We would think the impact would be fairly severe, as Erdogan's political skill and strength of character have been key in building up the current AK Party administration and holding the party together," said Tim Ash, an emerging markets expert at Bear Stearns International in London.

"A power struggle within the AK Party would be likely, and this could also strain relations with the secular establishment," he said in an investment note.

Erdogan, who has roots in political Islam, is distrusted by Turkey's powerful secularist elite, which includes army generals. They fear he wants to increase the role of religion and perhaps run for the presidency in elections due next year.

Opinion polls show Erdogan, a charismatic former mayor of Istanbul, is by far the most popular politician in Turkey. The party's number two, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, might struggle to maintain party unity, analysts say.

Erdogan was briefly admitted to hospital in April after suffering a muscular spasm.

Turkey's parliament, where the AK Party has a big majority, will choose a successor to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in May.

Turkish voters will elect a new parliament in November 2007. The AK Party is tipped to win the largest number of seats.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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