Turkey to rule on Istanbul election re-run appeal today

Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu kisses his mother Hava Imamoglu during a rally in Istanbul. (AFP)
Updated 06 May 2019
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Turkey to rule on Istanbul election re-run appeal today

ANKARA: Turkey’s High Election Board will rule on Monday on an appeal by President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) calling for a re-run of the Istanbul local elections that the party narrowly lost, the AKP’s mayoral candidate in the city said.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won control of the capital Ankara and Istanbul, the country’s biggest city, for the first time in 25 years in the March 31 local elections, in a major electoral setback for the president.
Erdogan’s ruling AKP and its nationalist MHP allies have since called for the results in Istanbul to be annulled and the election to be re-run, citing what they say are irregularities that affected the outcome.
While those appeals have been pending for weeks, the High Election Board (YSK) ordered partial and full recounts across Istanbul. Istanbul’s new CHP mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, took office last month as the recounts were completed.
However, in its interim ruling on the objections, the YSK ordered district electoral officials to inspect their respective polling station officials. Prosecutors also launched probes into the alleged irregularities, calling 100 polling station workers in for questioning as suspects.
“The YSK (High Election Board) has examined our party’s and the MHP’s objections to the Istanbul election results. I believe it will make a decision tomorrow,” AKP candidate and former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters.
On Saturday, Erdogan signalled he favors a re-run of the Istanbul elections, which he said were marred by controversy, and added that renewing the vote would allow the YSK to “clear its name.”
AKP Deputy Chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz later on Sunday told broadcaster A Para that the party was preparing to file criminal complaints on the irregularities, but that it would wait for the YSK’s ruling.
“With this many illegalities, the prosecutors won’t be able to rest. We formed a team to file criminal complaints,” Yavuz said.
Yavuz also said the AKP would file a new appeal to the YSK to block individuals dismissed through government decrees after a July 2016 coup attempt from being able to vote. The YSK rejected a previous appeal by the AKP on the same issue.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said on Sunday that authorities had found 43 polling station officials had links to the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating the failed coup, as a result of the investigations into alleged election irregularities.
It said 41 of the suspects in Istanbul had deposited money into Bank Asya, a lender started by Gulen’s followers, and two had used ByLock, an encrypted messaging system Ankara says was used by Gulen’s network. Anadolu said the investigations were still underway.

‘A comedy’
While the CHP won the mayorship in Istanbul, the AKP won most of the districts and earned the majority of seats in the municipal council. The AKP says this proves the irregularities, but Imamoglu said on Saturday that the people could “only laugh at this.”
Speaking to suppor-ters in Istanbul on Sunday, Imamoglu said the elections were over and the results were clear. He said he believed the YSK would make a decision to safeguard Turkey’s future.
“It has been 36 days since the elections ended. Some people are doing everything they can for the Istanbul vote not to be concluded,” Imamoglu said. “You are elected, even if it is by one vote.”
“Appealing is a democratic right, we understand this. But they find new excuses everyday,” he said. “The history of the world hasn’t seen a comedy like this.”
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has accused Erdogan’s AKP and the MHP of putting political pressure on the YSK to re-run the Istanbul election.
Erdogan dismissed the accusations, saying his party was only exercising its legal rights.
The uncertainty over the results in Istanbul, which accounts
for around a third of the country’s economy, has kept financial markets on edge, as Turkey
tries to recover from a currency crisis that saw the lira lose more than 30 percent of its value
last year.


Ethiopia pays tribute to slain military chief

Updated 35 min 44 sec ago
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Ethiopia pays tribute to slain military chief

  • Hundreds of soldiers and officers in uniform gathered for the ceremony in a huge hall in central Addis Ababa

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia held a memorial on Tuesday for the army chief of staff slain with four other senior officials in weekend attacks that posed the biggest threat yet to the prime minister's reforms.
Abiy Ahmed, who survived a grenade attack at a rally in his honour last year, sat in the front row at the memorial and wiped tears from his eyes with a white handkerchief.
Abiy took power 15 months ago and has won widespread international praise for kickstarting political and economic reforms. But his shake-up of the military and intelligence services has earned him powerful enemies at home.
His government is also struggling to contain discontent from Ethiopia's myriad ethnic groups fighting the federal government and each other for greater influence and resources.
The foiled plot to seize control of the northern Amhara region and the assassinations in the national capital Addis Ababa underscored the threat of spiralling violence in Africa's second-most populous nation.
In addition to the killing of the chief of staff in the capital, Amhara state president Ambachew Mekonnen and an adviser were killed in the region's main city Bahir Dar.
The attacks were led by Amhara's head of state security General Asamnew Tsige, who had been openly recruiting fighters for ethnic militias in a state that has become a flashpoint for violence.
Asamnew, the alleged coup plotter, was shot on Monday near Bahir Dar, according to the prime minister's office. He had served nearly a decade in jail for a previous coup plot, but was released as part of an amnesty last year.
RISKS
Hundreds of soldiers and officers in uniform gathered for the ceremony in a huge hall in central Addis Ababa.
Roads in the capital were blocked for the ceremony and security was tight. Access to the internet appeared to be blocked across Ethiopia for the third straight day, users reported.
The coffins of army chief of staff Seare Mekonnen and a retired general, both shot dead on Saturday by Seare's bodyguard in the national capital Addis Ababa, were wheeled into the hall, draped in Ethiopian flags.
Photographs of the men in formal military dress were adorned with yellow roses. Seare will be buried in his home region of Tigray on Wednesday.
At the memorial, the army's deputy chief of staff General Birhanu Jula spoke of the chief of staff's bravery in the guerrilla war against the Communist Derg regime that was toppled in 1991, and of his leadership role in Ethiopia's war against neighbouring Eritrea in the late 1990s.
The weekend killings came as Ethiopia prepares to hold parliamentary elections next year, although the electoral board warned this month that they were behind schedule and that instability could delay polling.
SECURITY FORCES
Ethiopia's ruling coalition, itself a grouping of ethnically-based parties, is facing an unprecedented challenge from strident ethno-nationalist parties, global think-tank Crisis Group said in a briefing note on Tuesday.
Asamnew, who allegedly orchestrated the killings, had been appointed by state authorities as regional security chief in an effort to claw back support from Amharas supporting more his more hardline policies, including expansion of Amhara's borders, the group said.
"The 22 June killings confirm the dangers in handing security portfolios to hardliners like Asamnew who are ready to pander to extreme ethno-nationalists, from whichever of Ethiopia’s ethnicities," the note read.
Ethiopia analysts say the prime minister must tread carefully to restore security. Too strong a response risks derailing his reforms and angering a polarised population. But failure to punish those responsible could see violence could spiral out of control.
Mehari Taddele Maru, an independent Ethiopian analyst, said the government should channel public anger through dialogue, but if ethnic rivalries spread to the federal armed forces, that could destroy the state, he said.