Turkish opposition demands mandate as Istanbul recount continues

Ekrem Imamoglu, the main Turkish opposition Republican People's Party, CHP, candidate for Istanbul, right, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, center, and the new Ankara Mayor from CHP, Mansur Yavas, salute supporters, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (AP)
Updated 04 April 2019

Turkish opposition demands mandate as Istanbul recount continues

  • President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party submitted objections to election results in all districts of Turkey’s commercial hub Istanbul and capital Ankara
  • Initial results showed it was on course to lose control of both cities

ANKARA: Turkey’s main opposition candidate in Istanbul urged the High Election Board (YSK) on Wednesday to confirm him as the elected mayor after it ruled in favor of a partial recount of votes in eight of the city’s 39 districts.
Initial results from Sunday’s mayoral elections showed the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had narrowly won control of Turkey’s two biggest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, in a shock upset for President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party.
If those results are confirmed in the coming days, the CHP will gain control of municipal budgets with an estimated total value of 32.6 billion liras ($5.79 billion) for 2019 in Istanbul, Turkey’s commercial hub, and the capital Ankara.
Erdogan — who campaigned hard for the AKP ahead of the vote — would likely lose some oversight for local contracts in the two cities, possibly complicating his efforts to drag the Turkish economy out of recession.
However the AKP submitted objections to election results in all districts of Istanbul and Ankara, saying the results had been impacted by invalid votes and voting irregularities.
In Istanbul, CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, and his AKP rival, ex-prime minister Binali Yildirim, both said on Monday that Imamoglu was about 25,000 votes ahead, a relatively slim margin in a city of some 15 million people.
The chairman of the Election Board (YSK), Sadi Guven, said on Wednesday it had ruled that the recount of what had been marked as invalid votes should go ahead in eight Istanbul districts, some of them AKP strongholds.
Imamoglu called on the YSK to “do its job” and name him mayor, accusing the AKP of disrespecting the people of Istanbul.
“We want justice. We demand our mandate from the YSK, which has given the numbers, as the elected mayor of this city... The world is watching us, the world is watching this city’s elections,” he told reporters.
“Three or four people acting like children who had their toys taken away should not damage this country’s reputation through their own internal fights.”
AKP Deputy Chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz said his party was not doing anything illegal and added that the vote difference between Imamoglu and Yildirim had fallen to below 20,000 votes.
“We believe the reality will emerge tonight and we will all accept the results. Both Ekrem Imamoglu and the AK Party will have to accept the outcome,” Yavuz told reporters.
Local purse strings
Pro-government newspapers on Wednesday said there had been a conspiracy against Turkey in the local elections, with the Star newspaper likening this to an attempted military coup in 2016 and nationwide protests in 2013.
Yeni Safak newspaper editor Ibrahim Karagul called for a second vote after what he termed a “coup via elections,” adding without providing evidence that supporters of the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen — blamed by Ankara for the 2016 coup attempt — were involved.
Ahead of the elections, the CHP had formed an electoral alliance with the Iyi (Good) Party to rival that of the AKP and their nationalist MHP partners. In Ankara, opposition candidate Mansur Yavas received 50.9 percent of votes on Sunday, nearly 4 percentage points ahead of his AKP rival.
In some 100 rallies during his election campaign, Erdogan had described the opposition alliance as terrorist supporters linked to Gulen’s network and Kurdish militants.
Erdogan’s political success has rested on years of stellar economic growth in Turkey, but a recession that has brought surging inflation and unemployment and a plunging lira have taken their toll on the president’s popularity.
While Erdogan’s ruling alliance won a nationwide majority of just under 52 percent of all votes, losing Ankara and Istanbul — the city where he started his political life — would significantly dent his dominance.
“It is by controlling the municipality that you keep your support happy because it is at the municipal level that you give away lots of things to your core base,” said Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo political risk advisers.
Uncertainty generated by the local elections has added to volatility in the Turkish lira, which sold off sharply nearly two weeks ago, reflecting waning confidence among both Turks and international investors.
The lira was flat on Wednesday but slipped 2 percent on Tuesday after relations with Washington soured following a US decision to halt delivery to Turkey of equipment related to the F-35 fighter aircraft.
Adding to investor concerns over fraying diplomatic ties and possible US sanctions over the F-35 aircraft and missile defense, the US State Department urged Ankara to respect the “legitimate election results.”
Ankara responded by warning against foreign interference.
“We urge all parties, including foreign governments, to respect the legal process and refrain from taking any steps that may be construed as meddling in Turkey’s internal affairs,” Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s presidential communications director, said on Twitter.

Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

Updated 23 April 2019

Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

  • Mohammed bin Ali Koman says the situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families
  • He was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts

TUNIS: Not only does the harm caused by terrorist crimes affect innocent victims, it also leaves their families and communities with psychological and social pain, the Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Ministers of the Interior has said.

This situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families and help them overcome their predicament, Dr. Mohammed bin Ali Koman said.

Koman was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts, held every year on April 22 by the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, member states and the League of Arab States.

“Today is an opportunity to raise awareness of the pain and tragedies of victims of terrorist attacks and encourage all initiatives undertaken by official bodies and civil society organizations to alleviate their suffering,” he said.

“The effects of terrorist crimes have exceeded aggression against human lives and property to psychological and social impacts as well as affecting families,” he said.

“Terrorist crimes result in a continuous bleeding to the heart of affected communities, especially with the terrorist media being devoted to inspiring and promoting their criminal operations, which have affected thousands of victims, including children, women and the elderly.”

He hailed the efforts of the security services in their fight against terrorism and the great improvement in reducing its crimes in recent years, expressing his sympathies for the victims and his support for their families to overcome the aftermath of these crimes.

Koman stressed that the Council of Arab Interior Ministers has taken special measures to raise awareness about the pain of victims of terrorist acts, including the development of media programs to raise security awareness and improve citizens’ contribution to countering terrorist acts in implementation of the Arab counter-terrorism strategy. This was in addition to assigning the Arab bureau for security-related information activities, which operates under the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, to prepare media programs and materials to raise awareness about the dangers of terrorist acts and the suffering they cause.

He highlighted that the council’s efforts go beyond raising awareness to taking concrete measures to support the victims of terrorist acts, including members of the Arab security services and their families.

Koman said that these efforts include the establishment of an Arab security solidarity fund to cover the expenses of medical, social, and psychological support for Arab police and security personnel and their families, in addition to the development of a model for the organizational structure of a department in the security services specializing in psychological counseling.

“The department will be operated by social workers and psychologists who have the capacity to help victims overcome the pain and tragedy of terrorism,” he said.

Koman praised the efforts of Arab countries in assisting the victims of terrorist acts and alleviating their suffering, including providing financial and moral support and providing them with treatment and privileges, such as monthly wages, scholarships for their families and medals of honors to their martyrs.

He urged public and civil society institutions to develop awareness-raising efforts through holding seminars and organizing events to remember the suffering of the victims and provide them with social, psychological and financial support.

Koman concluded by saying a prayer for the victims harmed by terrorist acts and members of the security services who died foiling terrorist crimes and fighting terrorists.