Friday, June 2, 2023

Erdogan prays at Hagia Sophia ahead of Turkey’s crucial election on Sunday

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rallied his supporters this Saturday and prayed at the Hagia Sophia, basilica turned mosque in Istanbul, on the eve of elections in which he faces a united opposition led by Kemal Kilikdaroglu for the first time.

In this 4th-century Byzantine basilica converted into a mosque in 2020, the head of state concluded a campaign of insults and thinly veiled threats made by himself and those around him against his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

“The whole West was shocked! But I did it!” He shouted at supporters about Saturday’s conversion of the Hagia Sophia, which he himself carried out.

The 69-year-old “Reis” (Boss), who has been re-elected in regular elections since 2003, pledged on Friday to respect the result of the presidential and legislative elections, which called for 64 million voters and took nearly Used to promise to be, according to public opinion.

“We have come to power democratically with the support of our people. If our country takes a different decision, we will do what democracy demands,” he said in a televised interview broadcast simultaneously on most channels at night. ” in country.

However, fears of violent excesses remain in major cities after a series of incidents in the final stages of a highly polarized campaign forced his opponent to wear a bulletproof vest under his suit at his last campaign meetings.

The bus of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who is from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which is led by Kilikdaroglu and is very active in the campaign, was pelted with stones in Erzurum (eastern Anatolia) last Sunday.

– “Ready for democracy?” ,

Kilikdaroglu, who returned to Ankara, began his campaign on Saturday with a symbolic visit to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

In contrast to the autocratic power of a “single person” (Erdogan), his main opponent, 74, proposes a collegiate leadership in case of victory, surrounded by vice presidents representing the coalition’s six parties, ranging from right-wing nationalists to Left to moderate.

“Are you ready for democracy? For peace in this country? I am. I promise you,” he said at his last major rally in Ankara on Friday.

“I promise” is his campaign slogan and the refrain of his supporters’ songs.

Kiliçdaroglu promises a return to the rule of law and parliamentary rule, the separation of powers and the release of thousands of political prisoners – judges, magistrates, intellectuals, soldiers and civil servants – imprisoned for “terrorism” or “disrespecting the president”.

The popularity of the head of state, who highlights his country’s great achievements and development since 2003, has been undermined by the authoritarian turn of the past decade, with the half-mast economy – with the Turkish pound devalued by half – according to disputed official figures. , in two years – and inflation of about 40% in one year.

Erdogan admits that he is having difficulty wooing young people. More than 5.2 million of them will be voting for the first time in these close elections.

Another unknown is the effect of the earthquake that devastated part of southern Turkey, killing at least 50,000 people and displacing three million.

“It’s not good to vote in the rubble, but we want the government to change,” 48-year-old Dilbar Simsek, who took refuge in a tent, said on Saturday. “Nothing has improved in the last three months.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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