Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Erdogan says ready to vacate office if loses presidential election

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he is ready to vacate his office if he loses presidential polls on May 14.

“We came to power in Turkey democratically. And they way we came to power, we will do everything necessary for democracy if our people decides otherwise (votes for the opposition candidate),” he stated in an interview with the Turkish media ahead of the elections.

“We will consider any election outcome as legitimate,” he added.

He expressed confidence that people would support him and his party at the upcoming polls.

Erdogan has also condemned rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu for claiming without evidence that Moscow is interfering in Turkey’s upcoming elections. Erdogan claimed that the West, and not Russia, is “manipulating the elections in Turkey.”

“[Kilicdaroglu said that] Russia is manipulating the elections in Turkey. Shame on you!” Erdogan told a crowd of supporters in Istanbul on Friday.

In a Twitter post a day earlier, Kilicdaroglu accused the country’s “Russian friends” of being “behind the montages, conspiracies, deep fakes and tapes that were exposed in this country yesterday.”

“Get your hands off the Turkish state,” Kilicdaroglu warned the supposed Russian meddlers.

Kilicdaroglu was likely referring to the publication of a video showing another presidential candidate, Muharrem Ince, allegedly engaging in an extramarital affair. Ince dropped out of the race on Thursday, blaming followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose political movement Ankara claims orchestrated a failed coup in 2016.

There is zero evidence linking Russia with the publication or production of the tape, and the Kremlin said that it “firmly rejects” Kilicdaroglu’s claims.

“If I say ‘America is manipulating the elections in Turkey, Germany is manipulating it, France is manipulating it, England is manipulating it’, what would you say?” Erdogan continued, addressing his remarks to Kilicdaroglu.

While Erdogan did not attempt to tie the leak of Ince’s sex tape with any of the Western countries he mentioned, his interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, did. “It is clear who produced it,” he told CNN Turk earlier on Friday.

“The perpetrator is the Gulen movement and the US,” he added.

Soylu claimed that “America has been interfering in this election from the very beginning,” and produced the tape to force Ince out of the race and move his voters to Kilicdaroglu.

Erdogan did, however, accuse Western media outlets of trying to shift public opinion in Turkey against him.

“What do all the magazines say on their covers? ‘Erdogan must go.’ [Those published] in Germany, France and England say so,” he said at Friday’s rally, adding, “How do you put these words on the covers of these magazines? It’s not you, the West! It’s my nation that will decide!”

The presidential election in Turkey will be held on May 14. Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu are the main contenders for the presidency. In order to win, a candidate must secure at least 50% plus one vote. Otherwise, a runoff election will follow on May 28. Analysts don’t rule out such an option.

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