Deposed Istanbul mayor blasts ‘lies’ used to annul election

Turkey’s deposed mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, delivers a speech during his repeated political campaign coordination meeting on Wednesday in Istanbul. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2019
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Deposed Istanbul mayor blasts ‘lies’ used to annul election

ISTANBUL: Istanbul’s deposed mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said on Wednesday that no one believed the “lies” used to overturn his recent election and called on voters to “correct this great shame” in next month’s re-run.

“Nobody believes their claims,” Imamoglu said at a meeting in Istanbul to launch his re-election campaign.

He accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party of peddling “lies” and “excuses” to overturn his narrow victory in the mayoral election in March.

“When I look at their facial expressions, I see that they themselves do not believe them either,” Imamoglu said. The election board earlier this month accepted the ruling party’s allegations of “irregularities” and called a re-run of the vote for June 23.

Imamoglu’s victory for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) was the first time Erdogan’s party and its predecessors had lost control of the metropolis in 25 years.

Analysts say the government is reluctant to cede control of Turkey’s biggest city, which provides its mayor with significant resources for patronage as well as a high-profile platform.

“We will show the whole of Turkey on June 23 that there is no way out other than democracy and the ballot box,” Imamoglu said.

“Come and let’s correct this great shame and unfairness all together.”

Imamoglu said his campaign would focus on reversing extravagant spending in the city’s finances which he said he discovered during his brief 18-day stint as mayor.

“The resources of Istanbul municipality are being plundered ... Istanbul municipality is not the property of a handful of people,” he said.

The opposition candidate also accused the ruling party of copying his proposals, including reduced water bills and discounted student transport, saying it was like a schoolboy copying his homework.

But he sought to maintain a positive message, in line with his efforts to bring unity to Turkey’s fiercely partisan politics.

“We will embrace everyone ... Everyone is a patriot ... You will see at the end of this process we will love each other more.”

The election board was due to release its full explanation for canceling the results of the first election.

It did not annul the votes for the city council that were cast at the same time, and where the majority of seats went to Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party.


Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

Updated 18 min 11 sec ago
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Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

  • Mnuchin confident of raising the first $4 billion soon

MANAMA: Jared Kushner’s “workshop” aimed at securing economic prosperity for Palestine closed with optimistic forecasts from President Donald Trump’s special adviser that it could be the basis for a forthcoming political deal with Israel.

Kushner told journalists at a post-event briefing: “I think that people are all leaving very energized, very pleasantly surprised at how many like-minded people they see. It is a solvable problem economically, and the reason why we thought it was important to lay out the economic vision before we lay out the political vision is because we feel we need people to see what the future can look like.

“The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true. We want to show them that this is the plan, this is what can happen if there is a peace deal.”

The next stage, before a political deal is attempted, will be to get feedback from the event and agree to commitments for the $50 billion package for Palestine and other regional economies.

“I think you need $50 billion to really do this the right way, to get a paradigm shift,” Kushner added.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “I could not be happier how this has gone,” adding that he was “highly confident we will soon have the first $4 billion. It’s going to be like a hot initial public offering.”

Most of the attendees at the event in Manama, Bahrain, gave Kushner’s economic proposals a serious hearing and agreed it was a useful exercise. Mohammed Al-Shaikh, Saudi minister of state, said: “Can it be done? Yes it can, because it was done before. In the mid-1990s to about the year 2000 there was a global coordinated effort by the US and other countries. I was at the World Bank at the time. I saw it. If we could do it then with significantly less money we can do it again.”

Others warned, however, that there was still a long way to go on the political aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and Middle East peace envoy, said a political deal was essential.

“This is an economic plan that, if it is implemented, is going to do enormous good for the Palestinian people. But it isn’t a substitute for the politics. There will be no economic peace. There will be a peace that will be a political component and an economic component. The economy can help the politics and the politics is necessary for the economy to flourish.

“The politics has got to be right in this sense as well. The obvious sense people talk about is how do you negotiate the contours of the boundaries of a Palestinian state in a two state solution,” Blair said.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, highlighted the work the fund has done in conflict situations. “We had an exceptional result in Rwanda, and a good economic outcome in Mozambique,” she said. But she contrasted this with disappointing results in other African conflicts.

Lagarde said that the aim of the economic plan should be to create jobs. “The focus should be on job-intensive industries, like agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.”

Willem Buiter, special economic adviser to US banking giant Citi, said there were obstacles to the Kushner plan succeeding. “Necessary conditions for any progress are peace, safety and security. And there must be high-quality governance and the rule of law in Palestine,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Jared Kushner believes the conflict is a ‘solvable problem economically.’

• The senior adviser vows to lay out political plans at the right time.

• Expert urges external funding in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans.

He also suggested external funding should be in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans. “We should not burden a country trying to escape from its past with high debts,” he added.

Some attendees warned of the risks to investor funds in the current political situation in the Middle East. 

But Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Risk is not new to the region. We’ve tackled it for the past 30 to 40 years, but that has not stopped investment flowing in.

“Investors trade risk for return, and the Middle East has learned to cope with risk and conflict. There are pockets where the risk is high and Palestine is one of them. But I remain positive. The return in the region is higher to compensate for the risk,” he added.

At a session of regional finance ministers, Mohammed Al-Jadaan of Saudi Arabia said: “The region is in desperate need of prosperity and hope. There is a way forward, but you need political commitment.”

UAE Finance Minister Obaid Al-Tayer added: “We are decoupling politics from economics. If it’s the only initiative on the table we should all give it a chance.”