BFF-46 Erdogan, rival Ince trade blows on eve of crunch Turkey polls

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BFF-46

TURKEY-VOTE

Erdogan, rival Ince trade blows on eve of crunch Turkey polls

ISTANBUL, June 23, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his
main rival Muharrem Ince on Saturday traded blows in mass rallies on the
final day of campaigning for Turkey’s most fiercely contested elections in
years.

Turks vote on Sunday in snap twin presidential and parliamentary elections
called by Erdogan one-and-a-half years ahead of schedule, with the president
seeking a first round victory for a new mandate and a strong parliamentary
majority.

But the emergence of the energetic Ince as candidate for the Republican
People’s Party (CHP) and a wide-based opposition alliance have made the
elections tighter than many analysts — and likely Erdogan — envisaged.

After mega meetings by Ince in Izmir and Ankara over the last two days,
hundreds of thousands packed the vast Maltepe shoreside on the Asian side of
Istanbul for his final rally.

Ince claimed that five million people had surged to the Istanbul rally but
it was not possible to immediately confirm the numbers.

He painted a bleak picture of Turkey if Erdogan wins the elections, saying
its currency would remain weak, prices high and the issue of 3.5 million
Syrian refugees unsolved.

“But if Ince wins, it will not just be Ince who wins… 80 million people
will win! Turkey will win!” said Ince, who boasted of holding 107 rallies in
the last 50 days.

While Ince in the last days of campaigning opted to hold a single mass
rally a day in Turkey’s three major cities, Erdogan has been holding a
sequence of smaller but well-attended rallies in Istanbul.

“God wiling, tomorrow evening we will be able to experience this happiness
together,” Erdogan told a rally in the Istanbul district of Esenyurt. “Are
you ready to bring victory?”

He lashed out at Ince, who has vowed to camp outside the headquarters of
Turkey’s election commission Sunday to ensure a fair count. “Mr Muharrem, we
are living in a state of law,” he said, adding “all measures” had been taken
for voting security.

Turkey’s opposition candidates have repeatedly complained over the lack of
airtime offered by largely pro-government media. State-run TRT Haber news
channel did now show Ince’s speech live at all while only parts were
broadcast on privately-owned CNN-Turk.

BSS/AFP/FI/ 1836 hrs