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Thousands march week after failed Turkey coup

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the nation’s military will be restructured following last week’s failed coup

Published: Updated:

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the nation’s military will be restructured following last week’s failed coup.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters Erdogan said there were significant failures in intelligence ahead of last Friday’s attempted military coup and that the armed forces would quickly be restructured.

In his first interview since declaring a state of emergency following the abortive coup, Erdogan said a new coup attempt was possible but would not be easy, saying “we are more vigilant”.

“It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it. I told it to the head of national intelligence,” Erdogan told Reuters in his palace in Ankara, which was targeted during the coup attempt.

Meanwhile thousands of Turkish government supporters on Thursday streamed across one of the two bridges spanning the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul to protest against the coup that sought to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan one week ago.

The Bosphorus Bridge between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul was one of the key battlegrounds in Friday night's coup attempt, as rebel soldiers descended in tanks to block it to traffic only to be countered by protesters who descended in force.

Responding to a call by Erdogan not to stop protests against the coup, his supporters filled the massive structure to denounce the putsch less than a week after it was beaten, AFP correspondents said.

Many carrying lit torches, they carried nationalist signs like “Our flag, our nation” and brandished slogans denouncing the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who Ankara blames for the coup.

They marched from the district of Kisikli on the Asian side -- where Erdogan has a home and regularly spoke to supporters in the aftermath of the coup -- to the European side of the city.

As a result, the bridge was closed to traffic from 1900 GMT and instead filled with a sea of people.

Erdogan has repeatedly said that despite the defeat of the coup, people must stay out on the streets to ensure there is no repeat of the attempt to oust the government.

Earlier on Thursday Erdogan announced the suspension of the convention of human rights as part of Turkey’s state of emergency.

But the announcement was soon met with caution from countries across neighboring Europe.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn urged Turkey to respect the rule of law, rights and freedoms after the state of emergency had been declared.

The EU is “concerned” about developments after Turkey imposed emergency rule earlier in the day and measures taken so far in the fields of education, judiciary and media are “unacceptable”, Mogherini and Hahn said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of public-sector workers have been sacked, suspended or detained as the government seeks to purge its bureaucracy of suspects behind the attempted intervention on July 15. Officials blame a religious movement for the plot.

Any temporary suspension of the European Convention of Human Rights must follow the rules of derogation, they said without elaborating, after a Turkish deputy prime minister said Turkey would do so during emergency rule.

(With AP, AFP and Reuters)