ISTANBUL (AFP) - Turkey on Saturday marked one year since the defeat of the coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with mass rallies seeking to showcase national unity in a divided society and his grip on power.
The authorities have declared July 15 an annual national holiday of "democracy and unity", billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy.
"It s one year since the darkest night was turned into an epic," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a special session of parliament that kicked off a day of celebrations set to last until dawn.
He said the night of July 15 was a "second War of Independence" after the war that led to the creation of the modern Turkish state in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.
Two hundred and forty nine people, not including the plotters, were killed when a disgruntled faction of the army sent tanks into the streets and war planes into the sky in a bid to overthrow Erdogan after one-and-a-half decades in power.
But they were thwarted within hours as the authorities regrouped and people poured into the streets in support of Erdogan, who blamed followers of his ally-turned-nemesis, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.