CHP’s Ankara candidate vows to defend votes as police crack down on protest

Photo: CHP’s Ankara candidate vows to defend votes as police crack down on protest / Turkey

More than two days have passed since the end of the March 30 elections, but tension over counting and the victors remains latent, with anger over alleged electoral fraud in Ankara spreading to points around the country, the Hürriyet Daily News newspaper reported.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) appealed to district election boards of Ankara over irregularities in the local mayoral elections in which the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) incumbent won a narrow victory.

"We will not let any votes of the people of Ankara be wasted. We'll follow the votes given for us until the end," Mansur Yavaş, the CHP candidate for Ankara mayor, said in a press conference Apr. 1 noting that his party did not believe the election was fair.

Apart from Ankara, the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) appealed the votes in three provinces, Iğdır, Kastamonu and Kütahya, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) appealed for a recount of votes in Istanbul's Kartal district. The main opposition party also demanded a recount in Istanbul's Üsküdar district.

In Ankara, some votes given to the CHP were included in the records of the ballot boxes of other parties, while some CHP votes were not recorded at ballot boxes, Mansur said, adding that around 12,000 ballot boxes were being examined one by one with the help of at least 500 600 young volunteers.

"This is not an organized movement. Youngsters are protecting [their votes]," the CHP candidate said, welcoming the people of Ankara who mobilized and poured into CHP headquarters to count noteworthy differences between the figures provided in the records of the ballot boxes and the figures being recorded by the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK).

The CHP also received additional records of ballot boxes from other political parties, Yavaş said.

Following complaints to district election boards, Yavaş said he expected the District Election Boards to make their final decision regarding the objections tomorrow evening.

If the appeals are accepted, the Provincial Election Board will review them. According to CHP deputy Aylin Nazlıaka, the Provincial Election Board would be expected to make its decision by April 6, and if the appeals are referred to the YSK, the high board's decision would be expected to be finalized by April 9 at the latest.

On the other hand, incumbent Mayor Melih Gökçek said they had actually received more votes than the current figures and stated that his party would also contest the results.

There are some mistakes in writing of records of ballot boxes and friends are now correcting them," he said at a press conference held just after his rival's media appearance.

He suggested that the AKP would eventually win by 40,000 votes, Gökçek said.

"CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is provoking and sending people onto the streets... They will start protests in Ankara and Istanbul," Gökçek said. "They want to put pressure on the election boards. CHP is responsible for the incidents that will erupt in Ankara."

In the meantime, riot police fired water cannon in Ankara Apr. 1 to disperse hundreds of people protesting outside the YSK against the local election results.

The crowd, calling for a recount of the Ankara result, which was particularly close, chanted "Thief Tayyip!" and "YSK, the people are with you!" before the riot police moved in.

Claims spread to other cities

The MHP applied to the YSK for the recount of the votes in three provinces, namely Iğdır, Kastamonu and Kütahya, Apr. 1.

The party lost the mayoral office in Kastamonu by a very narrow difference and believe that their votes will exceed the ruling AKP in a recount. Tahsin Babaş from the AKP took 27,101 votes while his rival, Hayati Hamzaoğlu of the MHP, received 26,856 votes in the province, according to daily Hürriyet. In 2009 local elections, the MHP's candidate was elected as mayor with 23,748 votes in Kastamonu. In Iğdır, Murat Yikit of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won 18,217 votes while his rival from the MHP, Gündüz Güneş, received 17,670 votes.

The AKP has also appealed the election results in Kartal, claiming that the votes were not counted correctly. During the appeal, deputies from the AKP and CHP entered the District Electoral Board at the same time and a scuffle took place when the two sides accused each other of bringing unrelated people along with them.

Kartal Mayor Altınok Öz, who has provisionally regained his post as the CHP's candidate, said the elections were conducted in correct way and added that he had received 5,650 more votes than his next rival.

The CHP also appealed the elections results in the Küçükçekmece, Beyoğlu and Üsküdar districts of Istanbul yesterday, CHP Istanbul district head Oğuz Kaan Salıcı said in a press statement.

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