Istanbul — Turkey's military rulers are leaving their fingerprints on a future Turkish democracy, and they are exposing themselves to international criticism to do so. The present military rulers have dissolved a newly formed political party and taken into custody 16 prominent former political leaders. They also warned that elections set for next November might be called off.
Due to the ban on all public and press criticism on the decision, there has been little reaction in Turkey. But many negative voices were raised in Western capitals.
''The generals had to make a difficult decision and eventually to opt for the harsh measures, whatever the cost, because they are determined to shape the country's future regime according to their thinking and not, to use the words of the recent official statement, according to the philosphy of the former politicians,'' notes a Turkish analyst.
The main target was the Grand Turkey Party, which was established only two weeks ago. Turkish President Kenan Evren said the Grand Turkey Party was nothing but the continuation of the conservative Justice Party, which was dissolved after the 1980 military coup. He accused former Premier Suleyman Demirel of trying to provoke a division in the armed forces by pitting one retired general against another (Evren's choice) in the elections. It is assumed that Demirel, who has been banned from political activities, is the new party's behind-the-scenes leader.
Just before Gen. Ali Fethi Esener was named chairman of the Grand Turkey Party, Evren's favorite candidate for the presidency, retired Gen. Turgut Sunalp , became the leader of the Nationalist Democratic Party. Evren reportedly tried to merge the two right-center parties, which are said to be ideologically identical. When he failed, he banned the Grand Turkey Party.
Evren also banished Demirel, Husamettin Cindoruk, a founder of the Grand Turkey Party, and former Foreign Minister Ihsan S. Caglayangil to the province of Canakkale in northwest Turkey. General Esener has not been included in the list of detainees. The detention will last until the new parliament is elected next November.
In its two-week existence, the Grand Turkey Party was joined by many former parliamentarians and members of the Justice Party, and it had become the strongest of the five political parties formed since the suspension, effective May 16, of the 21/2-year-old ban on political activities.
The military rulers also exiled seven leading members of the Social Democratic Republican People's Party. The leader of the leftist party, former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, was not affected by this decision because he has stayed out of politics lately.