Appeals and recounts spark frustration as Istanbul vote count enters third week

Repeated AKP challenges to the initial results have led to growing frustration among supporters of the main opposition CHP. (AFP)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Appeals and recounts spark frustration as Istanbul vote count enters third week

  • A second recount of votes in an east Istanbul district have been ordered
  • The loss of Ankara ended 25 years of control over the capital by the AK Party and its predecessors

ANKARA: Electoral officials ordered a second recount of votes in an east Istanbul district on Monday, after two weeks of appeals by President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party against results showing it had narrowly lost control of Turkey’s largest city.

Repeated AKP challenges to the initial results have led to growing frustration among supporters of the main opposition CHP, which spilled over onto the football terraces at the weekend when Istanbul’s top teams played two derby matches.

“Give the mandate, give Imamoglu the mandate now,” fans of Besiktas and Fenerbahce chanted, as their teams played current league leaders Basaksehir, whom Erdogan has said he supports, and runners-up Galatasaray.

The secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, who attended both matches, holds a slim lead of around 0.2 percentage points over his AK Party rival, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, according to initial results of the March 31 local elections.

Major blow

The loss of Ankara ended 25 years of control over the capital by the AK Party and its predecessors. Defeat in Istanbul, where Erdogan was mayor in the 1990s, would be an even greater blow to the president who has dominated Turkish politics through a decade and half of repeated election triumphs.

On Monday, electoral officials in the Maltepe district of Istanbul, where a recount of votes in 1,089 ballot boxes had already been underway for nearly a week, ruled for a fresh recount after an appeal by the AKP and their nationalist MHP allies, broadcaster NTV said.

The appeal centered around an AKP objection to the additional teams brought in to speed up the recount, and means more than half the votes in the district must be recounted again.

Objections filed

The AKP has already filed several other objections across Istanbul and has appealed to annul the elections in another district, Buyukcekmece.

The High Election Board (YSK) has said it would wait for all recounts across the city to be completed before ruling on the AKP’s appeal to annul results in Buyukcekmece.

After that it may have to rule on a call by Erdogan — not yet formally submitted by the AKP — for the entire Istanbul election to be annulled over what the party said were irregularities that affected the outcome.

An appeal for annulment of the entire Istanbul election could probably be lodged only after the YSK has announced the final results.

CHP lawmaker Baris Yarkdas said his party has asked the YSK to consider previous recounts as valid and to speed up recounts across Istanbul by forming 100 new counting teams.

“The AKP-MHP was planning to get different results by having the ballot boxes in Maltepe recounted. When the results did not come out as they wished, they are now not signing the record sheets of the judges (officials) so the count can’t be finished,” Yarkdas said on Twitter.


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

Updated 23 April 2019
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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.