Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to be sworn in as head of state after winning an historic run-off election to extend his two-decade rule for another five years. The 69-year-old leader will later on Saturday name his cabinet, which will be tasked with handling an economic crisis that has witnessed runaway inflation and the collapse of the lira. Turkey's longest-serving leader faces considerable diplomatic challenges amid tensions with the West. Saturday's inauguration in parliament will be followed by a lavish ceremony at the presidential palace in the capital Ankara attended by dozens of world leaders. Turkey's transformative but divisive leader won the May 28 run-off against a powerful opposition coalition, and despite an economic crisis and severe criticism following a devastating February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people. Erdogan won 52.2 percent of the vote while his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu 47.8 percent, official results show. ECONOMIC CRISIS Al Jazeera's Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Ankara, said that the inauguration ceremony will be attended by at least 78 members of the international community. 'Dozens of prime ministers and presidents are all waiting as President Erdogan in the next couple of hours takes oath for his historic third decade in power,' he said. 'It is a historic time when he is not going to announce just his vision, but also people who will part of his cabinet,' our correspondent said. Addressing the country's economic troubles will be Erdogan's priority with inflation running at 43.70 percent, partly due to his unorthodox policy of cutting interest rates to stimulate growth. Turkey's new members of parliament started being sworn in on Friday in their first session after the May 14 election, also attended by Erdogan. His alliance holds a majority in the 600-seat parliament. Erdogan's victory came against a unified opposition coalition led by Kilicdaroglu, whose future as leader of the CHP party remains in doubt following the defeat. SWEDEN'S NATO BID Meanwhile, NATO allies are anxiously waiting for Ankara to greenlight Sweden's attempt to join the United States-led defence alliance, before a summit in July. Erdogan has been dragging his feet in approving the application, accusing Stockholm of sheltering 'terrorists' of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will attend Erdogan's inauguration at the weekend and hold talks with him, the alliance said on Friday. Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Twitter that 'a clear message' emerged at a NATO meeting in Oslo for Turkey and Hungary to start the ratification process. His Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu responded: 'A crystal clear message to our Swedish Friends! Fulfill your commitments arising from Trilateral Memorandum and take concrete steps in the fight against terrorism.'
Source: National News Agency - Lebanon