Deputy PM: Local elections far from local

Photo: Deputy PM: Local elections far from local / Turkey

The upcoming local elections's results will affect both the presidential and general elections, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said in a live program aired on NTV Thursday, Anadolu Agency reported.

Atalay sent his condolences to Berkin Elvan's family, the 15-year-old injured during Gezi Park protests and whose death Wednesday triggered mass protests that gripped the country in the last two days.

Berkin Elvan reportedly was going to buy bread when he was hit by a gas canister in the head during a police crackdown against Gezi protests in Istanbul, June 2013. He died Tuesday after staying 269 days in coma, and shrinking from 45 kilos to 16 kilos. His death triggered mass protests in major cities with occasional outbursts of violence partly due to the police crackdown.

Atalay noted the presence of multiple elements including banners of terrorist organizations, and political parties at Elvan's funeral, and warned against 'exploiting' a young teen's death in order to create an unsafe environment ahead of the elections.

"It is impossible to approve of such anti-government behavior under the pretense of protesting against a young boy's death," the deputy PM said referring to the Wednesday attack on the AK Party election coordination centre.

Atalay said that both the administrative and judicial investigations into Elvan's death to identify the police officer who fired the gas canister that hit him in the head, and eventually caused his death, are ongoing.

"Which government wants the loss of a young life? This issue is being dealt with the upmost sensitivity. Everybody can be assured of that. Whether it was an accident or done on purpose, we must find who was responsible. This is very important to us," he stressed.

Atalay asserted that Turkey is going through a very important process ahead of the upcoming local elections on March 30, which he said meant much more than just a local election; the outcome of which is going to affect both the presidential and general elections.

He also said that that there is a coalition working against the Justice and Development (AK) Party, and claimed that the so-called "parallel structure" is also a part of this coalition, which is working to ensure that people vote for the second strongest party (after AK Party) in their respective districts, regardless of what party it may be.

"You can consider this election as a referendum of some sort. This is how we actually approach it ourselves. We are executing an election campaign that is highly comprehensive and serious," he said.

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