In a slight cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Wednesday, Efkan Ala resigned as the interior minister and was replaced by Süleyman Soylu.
The announcement came after an unexpected meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Yıldırım at the Presidential Palace in Ankara. Turkish media outlets reported that even some cabinet members were not privy to this last-minute change.
The reshuffle also coincided with a dinner meeting where Yıldırım hosted all former Justice and Development (AK) Party cabinet members, including the 11th President Abdullah Gül and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
With his appointment, Soylu become the sixth interior minister serving with the AK Party government, excluding those bureaucrats who served for interim periods in accordance with Turkey's election laws. Soylu has a business background, contrary to general tradition, since those chosen usually have a police or civil administration background.
Before joining the AK Party in 2012, Soylu was the chairman of the center-right Democratic Party, between 2007 and 2009, and held the post for labor and social security after Nov 24. 2015.
His efforts during the July 15 failed coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) were praised by many.
Upon Soylu's appointment, Mehmet Müezzinoğlu took his place as minister for labor and social security. Müezzinoğlu is a former health minister and the deputy chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
Outgoing minister Ala had a very turbulent term as interior minister. Appointed on Dec. 25, the very same day that FETÖ-linked police officers and prosecutors launched the second part of corruption probes targeting government officials and their relatives, Ala's term mainly consisted of trying to cleanse Gülenists from Turkey's public administration and police force, both of which successfully fought back the coup plotters on July 15.
However, after the end of the two-year-long reconciliation period with the PKK terror organization in the summer of 2015, Turkey experienced a series of deadly suicide attacks launched by the PKK and DAESH terror groups, as the PKK shifted its guerrilla tactics in the southeast and tried to take control over entire towns and cities through cadres and equipment acquired during the two-year-long calm period. More than 500 police officers and soldiers have been killed, a greater number than ever before in such a short period. Previously, the number of security officers killed by the PKK stood at 1,100 for the AK Party's 13 years in power.
Ala was among the participants of the talks between government officials and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies to draw a roadmap to end the PKK's 40-year-long armed insurgency in 2015. Along with Ala, former Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan and former Culture and Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal, two other remaining AK Party members who participated in the talks, no longer take part in AK Party cabinets.