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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office denied on Monday reports he had been hospitalized for a stomach condition in the past week, dismissing what it called "baseless allegations".
Speculation about Erdogan's health has been rife since he had surgery to remove polyps from his intestines in late 2011.
Polyps are abnormal growths of tissue which can be cancerous. However, following the surgery, Turkish media cited Erdogan's doctor as saying the polyps had been harmless.
Monday's reports, published in the Yurt newspaper and other Turkish dailies, said Erdogan had spent five days in hospital with an upset stomach. The papers provided no source for the reports.
In a statement, Erdogan's office called the reports "baseless allegations" and said the prime minister, in power since 2003, would begin his usual program this weekend after several days of holiday marking the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan.
Erdogan, who normally speaks daily on live television and travels frequently around the country, has not appeared in public over the holiday period.
Power in Turkey has become highly centralized around Erdogan, who has made little secret about his desire to become president, and rifts have emerged within his party during previous absences.
Two consecutive cabinet meetings were canceled following Erdogan's surgery, fuelling speculation about what would happen if the man who has towered over Turkish politics for the last decade were to withdraw from public life.
(Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)