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Turkey’s opposition CHP claims victory in Istanbul elections

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Candidate of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) for Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu speaks during a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 1, 2019. (AFP photo)

Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) has claimed clear-cut victory in mayoral elections in the city of Istanbul despite a statement by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting his ruling AK Party had the upper hand in the votes.

CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu said on Sunday that it was “very clear” his party had won the mayoral election in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul.

“I know we won in Istanbul, it is very clear,” Imamoglu told reporters in Istanbul while accusing the rival candidate of “manipulation” by declaring victory in the votes.  

The statement came after AKP candidate and former prime minister Binali Yildirim declared victory in Sunday’s mayoral elections in Istanbul.

It also came just before Erdogan said that his AK party remained “the number one party” in Turkey despite admitting that it may have lost in Istanbul.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves the stage after delivering a speech during a press conference at Huber Mansion in Istanbul, on March 31, 2019 following local elections. (AFP photo)

Erdogan said in a speech to supporters in the capital Ankara, where the AK Party had suffered a similar defeat, that his party was still the dominant political force in districts of Istanbul despite reports showing it may have given away the mayorship of the city.

“In Istanbul, the majority of the districts are either ours or head-to-head. What does this mean? Even if our people gave away the mayorship, they gave the districts to the AK Party,” said the Turkish leader.

Erdogan, who was apparently dissatisfied with the election results, said that the AK Party would appeal results wherever needed while adding that there was a need for making the system of governance in Turkey more dynamic.

However, Erdogan’s communications director said his remarks on Istanbul votes were not contradicting Yildirim’s declaration of victory in the city.

“Our president did not have any remarks on Istanbul that contradicted Mr Binali Yildirim’s statement,” Fahrettin Altun said in a post on Twitter.

Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics since coming to power 16 years ago. He had been optimistic the AKP would win the local elections, saying during intensive campaigns before the votes that it was a “matter of survival” for Turkey.

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