Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu hails victory as step to repair democracy

Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) gestures as he addresses his supporters from the top of a bus outside the City Hall in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 27 June 2019

Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu hails victory as step to repair democracy

  • Imamoglu returned to Istanbul City Hall to take up the seat he held for 18 days before Turkey’s top election board nullified the first election for mayor
  • In a rebuke to the ruling AK Party, voters returned Imamoglu to the mayor’s office by a much bigger margin

ISTANBUL: Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition candidate who won an Istanbul mayoral election that was voided weeks later, retook office in Turkey’s largest city following his repeat win, a stunning victory he called a step toward repairing a damaged democracy.
Cheered on by supporters of the opposition Republican People’s Party, Imamoglu returned to Istanbul City Hall to take up the seat he held for 18 days before Turkey’s top election board nullified the first election for mayor and ordered a rerun.
“The people of Istanbul have confirmed their attachment to the republic and to democracy,” Imamoglu told the jubilant, flag-waving crowd. “This confirmation has shown the world that Turkey isn’t any ordinary Middle Eastern country. The belief in democracy runs deep in Turkey’s veins.”
Imamoglu won the first vote on March 31 by a narrow margin. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing party challenged the results, and recounts of ballots from some Istanbul districts went on for weeks before Imamoglu was inaugurated as mayor.
The electoral council eventually granted a request from the president’s party to annul the election. The decision aroused concerns of a possibly deliberate undermining of democracy in Turkey, where Erdogan is accused of increasing authoritarianism.
In a rebuke to the ruling party, voters returned Imamoglu to the mayor’s office by a much bigger margin. He received 54.21 percent of the vote — 806,000 votes more than the governing Justice and Development Party’s candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
In his speech — interrupted by chants of “Mayor Ekrem” and his campaign slogan “everything will be beautiful” — Imamoglu promised to end what he described as the “squandering” of the city’s public funds by the governing party.
“The squandering will end, the belt-tightening will start. Istanbul’s 16 million (people) will share the city’s blessings,” he said.
Earlier, authorities at Istanbul’s main court presented Imamoglu with a framed certificate confirming his mandate to rule over Turkey’s largest city and commercial hub for the next five years. Istanbul’s governor — the interim mayor — later handed over the municipality’s official seal to Imamoglu in a televised ceremony.


Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

Updated 17 November 2019

Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

  • Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad
  • More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Iraqi protesters regained control of a third bridge leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday, taking further ground in the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations in decades.
Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad, part of a weeks-long attempt to disrupt traffic and reach the Green Zone housing government ministry and embassies.
Protesters made a barricade of old cabinets, trash cans and metal sheeting on the bridge while security forces took positions behind blast walls installed to prevent protesters from crossing to the other side. Protesters who choked on the tear gas were evacuated by tuk-tuk, a Reuters cameraman said.
On Saturday, Iraqi demonstrators reoccupied part of adjacent Sinak Bridge and a nearby tall building in Baghdad that security forces had pushed them away from a week before. They have held a third bridge, Jamhuriya, since October 25.
More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Protesters are demanding the overthrow of a political class seen as corrupt and beholden to foreign interests.
In Basra in the south, dozens of protesters burned tires and briefly blocked some roads on Sunday, before police managed to restore control and reopen them, police said.
The unrest has shattered the relative calm that followed the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.