ISTANBUL, May 22 — Istanbul’s deposed mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said today 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 was referring to the ruling party’s allegations of “irregularities” in March’s mayoral vote that led the election board to annul Imamoglu’s narrow victory and call a re-run for June 23.
“When I look at their facial expressions, I see that they themselves do not believe them either,” he said.
Imamoglu’s victory for the opposition of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) was the first time the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or 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.”
He added that his campaign would focus on reversing extravagant spending in the city’s finances.
“The resources of Istanbul municipality are being plundered... Istanbul municipality is not the property of a handful of people,” he said.
Imamoglu, who has tried to bring an element of unity to Turkey’s fiercely partisan politics, said: “We will embrace everyone... Everyone is a patriot... You will see at the end of this process we will love each other more.” — AFP