Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Top Stories

Huge crowds rally to support Istanbul’s banned mayor

#Huge #crowds #rally #support #Istanbuls #banned #mayor

Tens of thousands of Turks swarmed a central Istanbul square on Thursday in solidarity with the city’s opposition mayor after he was banned from politics ahead of next year’s presidential election.

A criminal court on Wednesday sentenced Ekrem Imamoglu to more than two years in prison and barred him from holding office for the same length of time for “insulting a public official” in 2019.

Imamoglu will continue to serve as mayor of Turkey’s largest city while his appeal is heard in a case linked to a hugely contested election in which his initial victory was annulled.

The case could be fast-tracked for a quick hearing and destroy any bid by Imamoglu to run in the June presidential campaign.

The US State Department said it was “deeply troubled and disappointed” by the potential removal of one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s biggest rivals from the political scene.

Germany called it “a heavy blow to democracy” while France urged Turkey to “reverse its slide away from the rule of law, democracy and respect for fundamental rights”.

“This sentence is disproportionate and confirms the systemic lack of independence of the judiciary and the undue political pressure on judges and prosecutors in Turkey,” a European Union said in a statement.

– ‘Absolutely not afraid’ –

Turkey’s fractured opposition has struggled to unite behind a single candidate to challenge Erdogan’s two-decade rule in the upcoming vote.

Polls show the 52-year-old Istanbul mayor as one of the more likely challengers to beat Erdogan in a head-to-head race.

But his secular CHP party’s leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu — a bookish former civil servant who struggles in opinion polls — is still pushing hard for his own candidacy.

Meral Aksener of the nationalist Iyi (Good) Party has also seen her electoral ratings shoot up.

The fractured opposition has seized on the court case to try and spur their stuttering campaign.

Imamoglu and the leaders of six Turkish opposition parties walked out shoulder-to-shoulder through a crowd of supporters for a rally aimed at showing their defiance of Erdogan.

“I am absolutely not afraid of their illegitimate verdict,” Imamoglu told the flag-waving crowd under constant rain.

“I don’t have judges to protect me, but I have 16 million Istanbulites and our nation behind me.”

The rally marked the first joint public appearance by the main opposition leaders during the election campaign.

Its size also rivalled the number of people Erdogan generally draws at his own almost weekly campaign events.

Local media reports said a few hundred people showed up to a separate rally in Imamoglu’s native Black Sea city of Trabzon.

– ‘Damaged credibility’ –

Snap polls show that Wednesday’s court ruling threatens to backfire on Erdogan.

The Turkish leader’s own ratings have started to recover from a low reached during an economic crisis in the past year.

But a MetroPoll survey showed that even voters for Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted AKP party believe that the case against the mayor was “political”.

MetroPoll showed 28.3 percent of AKP voters thought it was rooted in politics while 24.2 percent believed it was connected to “libel”.

Only 17.6 percent nationally thought is was “libel”.

Erdogan himself is yet to address the mayor’s  conviction.

But the head of the staunchly nationalist junior partner in Erdogan’s ruling coalition accused Imamoglu of flouting the law.

“It is one thing to disapprove of a court decision, another to insult it,” MHP party chief Devlet Bahceli said.

“Everyone must respect judicial decisions, even if they are disliked.”

one of the main dangers for Erdogan’s coalition appears to be a loss of legitimacy for the upcoming vote among ordinary Turks.

“This verdict and the accompanying political ban is a sign of the AKP’s deep worry if Imamoglu was to be the opposition’s candidate,” the EU’s former Turkey ambassador Marc Pierini tweeted.

“If the verdict is not overturned at appeal stage, the election’s credibility will be badly damaged.”

Social Tags:
#Huge #crowds #rally #support #Istanbuls #banned #mayor

You May Also Like


State would join dozens of others in enacting legislation based on federal government’s landmark whistleblower statute, the False Claims Act

press release

With a deep understanding of the latest tech, Erbo helps businesses flourish in a digital world.

press release

#Automotive #Carbon #Canister #Market #Projected #Hit #USD New York, US, Oct. 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —  According to a comprehensive research report by Market...

press release

Barrington Research Analyst James C.Goss reiterated an Outperform rating on shares of IMAX Corp IMAX with a Price target of $20. As theaters...