Anger in Istanbul as protesters reject re-run of election for city’s mayor

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Supporters of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu shout anti-government slogans as they take part in a protest against the re-run of Istanbul mayoral election. AFP
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Supporters of Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition, Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) mayoral candidate in Istanbul, gather for a rally in Istanbul, late Monday, May 6, 2019. (AP)
Updated 08 May 2019

Anger in Istanbul as protesters reject re-run of election for city’s mayor

  • The Supreme Electoral Board ruled Monday in favor of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing party
  • Erdogan’s party claimed the vote was marred by irregularities

ISTANBUL: Street protests erupted, the lira plunged in value and Turkey’s stock market plummeted on Tuesday after election authorities ordered a rerun of the vote for mayor of Istanbul.

The Supreme Election Council accepted a claim by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party of “irregularities” in the March vote, when former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim lost to Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

When the June 23 repeat vote was announced the Turkish lira slid 1.5 percent past the 6.15 per dollar threshold, Istanbul’s stock market and government bonds fell, and protesters took to the streets.

“The will of the people has been trampled on,” said centrist IYI Party leader Meral Aksener.

Senior European Parliament member Guy Verhofstadt said the “outrageous decision highlights how Erdogan’s Turkey is drifting toward a dictatorship.”

The rerun election was a “seismic event in Turkish history,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Program at the Washington Institute.

“Turkey has been holding free and fair elections since the 1950s,” he said. “Never before has a party refused to accept the outcome of the election. Erdogan is saying, ‘Let’s vote until the governing party wins’.”

The AKP’s Yildirim might still struggle to win the rerun after other parties threatened to unite against him. The pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) said it would repeat its policy from March of not contesting the election, which helped the CHP’s Imamoglu.

The Islamist Saadet (Felicity) Party and the Democratic Left Party said they may also stand aside in favor of Imamoglu.

The election council’s decision shows that Erdogan now dominates almost all institutions in Turkey, Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence in London, told Arab News.

“It will result in a lose-lose situation regardless of the outcome,” he said. “It not only intensifies Turkey’s vulnerability to market fluctuations ahead of the new vote, but it also shows that the AKP is willing to sacrifice the economy before ceding any power.”

Egypt accuses UN of seeking to ‘politicize’ Morsi death

Updated 26 min 27 sec ago

Egypt accuses UN of seeking to ‘politicize’ Morsi death

  • Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said the UN is trying to politicize a natural death
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an independent investigation into the death of Morsi

CAIRO: Egypt accused the United Nations on Wednesday of seeking to “politicize” the death of the country’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi by calling for an “independent inquiry.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the call by the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, for an independent investigation into Morsi’s death during a court hearing on Monday.

Hafez said it was a “deliberate attempt to politicize a case of natural death.”

Colville called Tuesday for a probe into whether the conditions Morsi faced during his nearly six years in custody had contributed to his death.

“Any sudden death in custody must be followed by a prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body to clarify the cause of death,” he said.

“Concerns have been raised regarding the conditions of Mr. Morsi’s detention, including access to adequate medical care, as well as sufficient access to his lawyers and family,” Colville added.

He said the investigation must “encompass all aspects of the authorities’ treatment of Mr. Morsi to examine whether the conditions of his detention had an impact on his death.”

Morsi was toppled by then army chief, now President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2013 after a single divisive year in power. He was later charged with an array of offenses including espionage.

Since his ouster, authorities have waged an ongoing crackdown on dissent of all kinds that has seen thousands of Brotherhood supporters jailed and hundreds facing death sentences.

A group of British parliamentarians in March 2018 warned Morsi’s detention conditions, particularly inadequate treatment for his diabetes and liver disease, could trigger “premature death.”