ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan intensified pressure on the opposition candidate in a re-run election for mayor of Istanbul by saying he would be barred from taking office if found guilty of insulting a provincial governor.
Ekrem Imamoglu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), narrowly beat the candidate of Erdogan’s AK Party in a March mayoral contest. After AKP appeals, the election commission annulled the result and ordered a re-run on June 23.
AKP - Loss - Istanbul - March - Elections
The AKP’s loss of Istanbul in the March 31 local elections was one of the worst setbacks for Erdogan since his Islamist-rooted party swept to national power in 2002. The AKP also lost control of the capital Ankara.
After keeping quiet on the mayoral race in recent weeks, Erdogan accused Imamoglu of being in cahoots with the network of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused by Turkish authorities of masterminding a failed military coup in July 2016.
Erdogan - Imamoglu - Consequences - Governor - Ordu
Erdogan also said Imamoglu would face consequences for allegedly insulting the governor of Ordu, a Black Sea province north of Istanbul, while campaigning there.
In a radio show on Wednesday, Erdogan said the governor, Seddar Yavuz, was set to take the matter to court.
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