Wed, May 08, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Turkish election board orders Istanbul rerun

NARROW WIN:The winner of the city’s mayoral election, Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition party, said that it was a ‘treacherous decision’ and vowed continue fighting

AFP, ISTANBUL, Turkey

Supporters of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu argue with police officers blocking a road during a protest against the rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Turkey’s top election body on Monday ordered a rerun of Istanbul’s mayoral election after the party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complained about its shock defeat in the vote, the state news agency reported.

The winner of the election, Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said that it was a “treacherous decision” and vowed to continue fighting.

“They are trying to take back the election we won. Maybe you are upset, but never lose your hope,” he told thousands of supporters on the outskirts of Istanbul following the ruling.

Imamoglu narrowly defeated the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the March 31 local elections to take control of Turkey’s biggest city. It was a rare electoral defeat for Erdogan, himself a former mayor of the city, which has been in the hands of the AKP and its predecessors for 25 years.

However, the AKP has refused to accept defeat, saying that there were “irregularities and corruption” in the vote.

Imamoglu won by just 13,000 votes, but was confirmed after two weeks of recounts in April. The former district mayor had vowed to heal political divisions and reach across party lines, but Istanbul, with 16 million residents, is Turkey’s economic engine and controls a major chunk of public spending.

Erdogan once said that winning Istanbul was like winning the entire country.

The loss of the mayorship in Istanbul, along with a more resounding defeat in the capital Ankara, reflected widespread concern over the deteriorating economy.

The CHP, which had previously called Erdogan a “bad loser,” said that it was holding an emergency meeting after the election body’s announcement.

The ruling was “neither democratic nor legitimate,” said CHP deputy chair Onursal Adiguzel, who represents Istanbul in the national assembly.

“Going to the polls against the AKP is allowed, but winning is forbidden... This is downright dictatorship,” he tweeted.

Imamoglu said he would travel to Ankara yesterday to meet with party leaders.

“I don’t even know what to say. The lawlessness is so obvious,” a female supporter told reporters ahead of Imamoglu’s speech in Istanbul. “If there is no rule of law ... they will trigger a civil war.”

The defeated mayoral candidate, former Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim, said that he hoped the rerun would “be beneficial for our city.”

Erdogan presented the local elections as a matter of national survival, campaigning heavily even though he was not running himself.

For his supporters, Erdogan remains the strong leader that Turkey needs as it faces internal and international security threats — while also speaking for religiously conservative Turks who have felt sidelined.

His critics have said that he has undermined the rule of law with a sweeping crackdown on dissent and sewn division by portraying his opponents as enemies of the state.

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