Erdogan's AKP challenges Istanbul results in Turkey election

People walk past barriers surrounding the Supreme Election council building, guarded by police officers, Tuesday April 2, 2019 in Istanbul. (AP)
Updated 02 April 2019

Erdogan's AKP challenges Istanbul results in Turkey election

  • Sunday's municipal vote delivered a setback to Erdogan after preliminary tallies showed the AKP lost the capital

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AKP on Tuesday appealed against the results in Istanbul after this weekend's elections citing what it called "excessive" irregularities.
Sunday's municipal vote delivered a setback to Erdogan after preliminary tallies showed the AKP lost the capital and the economic hub Istanbul after a decade and a half in power.
Erdogan's AKP and coalition partner won more than 50 percent of the votes nationwide, but defeat in two key cities would be a blow after Turkey slipped into recession for the first time in a decade.
The AKP appeal with electoral authorities, who have two days to decide whether it has any merit, may signal further challenges from the ruling party to opposition victories in the two key cities.
"We have filed our objections with the electoral authorities in all 39 districts," AKP's Istanbul district chief Bayram Senocak told reporters. "We have identified irregularities and falsifications."
He said the party had found an "excessive" difference between votes cast at ballot stations for their candidate and the data sent to electoral authorities.
Istanbul, the largest city in the country, was a key prize for Erdogan and he had fielded his former premier and loyalist Binali Yildirim as candidate for mayor.
But Istanbul was a tight race and both Yildirim and the opposition CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu claimed victory in the early hours of Monday.
Electoral authorities on Monday announced Imamoglu was ahead by 28,000 votes with nearly all ballot boxes tallied, prompting AKP officials to challenge to the result.
Imamoglu had 48.79 percent of the votes while Yildirim had 48.52 percent, Anadolu state news agency reported on Tuesday, citing preliminary results.
Imamoglu on Tuesday travelled to Ankara to lay a wreath at the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Musfafa Kemal Ataturk in a highly symbolic gesture Erdogan often does himself soon after his election wins.
"Had the other party won, I would have said 'congratulations Mr Binali Yildirim', which I do not say because I am the one who won," Imamoglu told reporters.
"They are behaving like a kid who has been deprived of his toy."
AKP party spokesman Omer Celik on Monday had said they had found discrepancies between reports from polling stations and vote counts in both Ankara and Istanbul.
Erdogan, himself a former Istanbul mayor, had campaigned hard in the city. But the ruling party may have been stung by the economy with Turkey in recession for the first time since 2009 and inflation in double digits.


Man shot dead as Lebanese army disperse protesters

Updated 13 November 2019

Man shot dead as Lebanese army disperse protesters

  • The death is the second during the nationwide protests that have paralyzed the country

BEIRUT: A man was shot dead south of Beirut after the army opened fire to disperse protesters blocking roads, Lebanese state media said Wednesday, nearly a month into an unprecedented anti-graft street movement.
The victim “succumbed to his injuries” in hospital, the National News Agency said, the second death during the nationwide protests that have paralyzed the country.
The army said in a statement that it had arrested a soldier after he opened fire in the coastal town of Khalde, just below the capital, to clear protesters “injuring one person.”
Protesters have been demanding the ouster of a generation of politicians seen by demonstrators as inefficient and corrupt, in a movement that has been largely peaceful.
On Tuesday night, street protests erupted after President Michel Aoun defended the role of his allies, the Shiite movement Hezbollah, in Lebanon’s government.
Protesters responded by cutting off several major roads in and around Beirut, the northern city of Tripoli and the eastern region of Bekaa.
The Progressive Socialist Party, led by influential Druze politician Walid Jumblatt, said in a statement that the man shot dead was one its members.
A long-time opponent of President Michel Aoun, Jumblatt appealed to his supporters to stay calm.
“In spite of what happened, we have no other refuge than the state. If we lose hope in the state, we enter chaos,” he said.
The government stepped down on October 29 but stayed on in a caretaker capacity and no overt efforts have so far been made to form a new one, as an economic crisis brings the country to the brink of default.
On Tuesday morning, dozens of protesters had gathered near the law courts in central Beirut and tried to stop judges and lawyers from going to work, demanding an independent judiciary.
Employees at the two main mobile operators, Alfa and Touch, started a nationwide strike.
Many schools and universities were closed, as were banks after their employees called for a general strike over alleged mistreatment by customers last week.

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The UN’s special coordinator for the country, Jan Kubis, urged Lebanon to accelerate the formation of a new government that would be able “to appeal for support from Lebanon’s international partners.”
“The financial and economic situation is critical, and the government and other authorities cannot wait any longer to start addressing it,” he said.
The leaderless protest movement first erupted after a proposed tax on calls via free phone apps, but it has since morphed into an unprecedented cross-sectarian outcry against everything from perceived state corruption to rampant electricity cuts.
Demonstrators say they are fed up with the same families dominating government institutions since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
In his televised address on Tuesday, Aoun proposed a government that includes both technocrats and politicians.
“A technocratic government can’t set the policies of the country” and would not “represent the people,” he said in the interview on Lebanese television.
Asked if he was facing pressure from outside Lebanon not to include the Iran-backed Hezbollah in a new government, he did not deny it.
But, he said, “they can’t force me to get rid of a party that represents at least a third of Lebanese,” referring to the weight of the Shiite community.
The latest crisis in Lebanon comes at a time of high tensions between Iran and the United States, which has sanctioned Hezbollah members in Lebanon.
Forming a government typically takes months in Lebanon, with protracted debate on how best to maintain a fragile balance between religious communities.
The World Bank says around a third of Lebanese live in poverty and has warned the country’s struggling economy could further deteriorate if a new cabinet is not formed rapidly.