ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — In a surprise move, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the rector of Istanbul’s most prestigious university whose appointment seven months ago led to relentless daily protests and hundreds of arrests.
Melih Bulu was removed from his post as rector of Bogazici University in a presidential decree issued early on Thursday. No reason was given for his dismissal. Bulu was a former political candidate from Erdogan’s ruling party.
Students and faculty had led mostly peaceful protests against Bulu since his appointment in January, denouncing his links to the government and demanding that the university be allowed to elect its own president.
Some of the protests turned violent earlier in the year, with police detaining hundreds of demonstrators at the university and in solidarity protests elsewhere, some of them taken away following raids to their homes. Most were later released.
Top government officials have said terrorist groups are provoking the protests, and Erdogan has called the protesting students terrorists.
Bulu’s deputy, Mehmet Naci Inci, was named acting rector until a new appointment is made.