ANKARA, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's major corruption investigation deepens as Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan is under mounting pressure by the opposition to resign amid damaging revelations.
The political landscape of Turkey has dramatically changed on Wednesday as one of the three ministers who resigned implicated Erdogan with complicity in corruption.
Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar claimed in a statement that he had been pressured to submit his own resignation to save the prestige of the government, adding that the prime minister should also quit as most of the amendments on construction plans mentioned in the corruption investigation have been approved by Erdogan.
"I believe that the prime minister should step down as well in order to placate the country," Bayraktar said.
Meanwhile, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Interior Minister Muammer Guler also resigned from their positions earlier on Wednesday, but denying any involvement in corruption or bribery.
For their part, opposition parties called these ministers' resignation a belated move, saying that the ministers might have attempted to impede the investigation during their last days in office.
"This is a belated decision," said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Republican People's Party, while Nationalist Movement Party deputy Ozcan Yeniceri said the resignation of the ministers has lost all meaning.
The only minister who was allegedly involved in graft but did not offer his resignation is European Union Minister Egemen Bagis who was also expected to resign from his job or face a discharge from the cabinet as part of reshuffle being contemplated by Erdogan.
The new cabinet is expected to be announced on Wednesday night after new names were submitted to President Abdullah Gul to approve. The expected meeting between Erdogan and Gul was postponed to late evening hours.
Speaking for the first time on the corruption investigation since it started on Dec. 17, President Gul on Tuesday pledged that the country will investigate claims in a transparent way and respecting the rule of law.
"There would be no cover-up and that the investigation would be adjudicated in independent courts," Gul told reporters.
For his part, Erdogan repeated on Wednesday the same argument he has been voicing for over a week to party delegates that there is a plot by international conspirators as well as domestic collaborators to oust him from power and harm the country.
"We will get rid of the rotten ones," reference to ministers who are involved in corruption and bribery. "Those who are involved in corruption will be held accountable by the people and the law."
But, there has a more troubling news for Erdogan. Former general secretary of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and former Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin announced on Wednesday that he resigned from the party over government's mishandling the corruption probe.
Sahin, a long-time friend of Erdogan, accused him with running the country with small group of oligarchic people, saying that he dose not approve the way Erdogan interfering with judiciary and police force.
On Friday, Two Turkish ministers' sons were referred to court for their alleged involvement in the corruption network.
The government has removed a total of 135 senior police officials in various provinces who had been ordered by the prosecutor's office to conduct the investigation.
The secret nature of investigation was also dealt a blow when the government changed rules overnight requiring police to notify the government on all ongoing investigations.
However, the government is facing legal challenges for these last-minute changes in rules.
Metin Feyzioglu, president of the Turkish Bar Association, said it is the duty of his association to prevent the corruption investigation from being covered up, influenced or discredited.
"We are responsible for following the ongoing corruption investigation closely, the scandal of the era, and ensuring that it continues to the very end," he said.