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.


Iran’s Hassan Rouhani may skip UN meet over US visa delay

Updated 18 September 2019

Iran’s Hassan Rouhani may skip UN meet over US visa delay

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and his delegation could be forced into skipping next week’s UN General Assembly because the United States has yet to issue them visas, state media said Wednesday.
Rouhani and his delegation had been scheduled to travel to New York for the annual UN gathering on Monday, but that was now looking unlikely given the lack of visas, state news agency IRNA said.
“If the visas aren’t issued in a few hours, this trip will probably be canceled,” IRNA reported.
The delegation includes Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, who the United States imposed sanctions against on July 31.
The foreign minister had been due to travel to New York on Friday morning, according to IRNA.
The absence of Rouhani would ruin France’s bid to arrange a meeting between him and US President Donald Trump as part of European efforts to de-escalate tensions between the arch-foes.
“Iran’s absence will show that in contrast with its commitments to the United Nations and international organizations within the framework of agreements, diplomacy has no value for the United States,” IRNA said.
“Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has not left the scene and it continues its active diplomacy, the US government must answer for its behavior,” it added.
The UN General Assembly debate is due to begin on Tuesday.
As the host government, the United States generally is obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at UN headquarters.
But Iran and the United States have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions in its campaign of “maximum pressure.”
Iran responded by scaling back its commitments under the landmark accord, which gave it the promise of sanctions relief in return for limiting the scope of its nuclear program.