In an attempt to justify a heavy defeat in mayoral elections, Turkey’s regime on Sunday May 5th alleged that it uncovered a link between Fathullah Gulen and officials at polling stations during the last local elections in Istanbul, which the opposition won.
The last mayoral elections took place on March 31st and ended in a major defeat for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost Ankara and Istanbul.
But AKP still rejects the result and stepped up efforts to counter the results, making several objections to the judiciary, which opened several investigations and questioned about 100 polling station officials, according to Anadolu official state agency.
Turkish investigators found that 43 of the 100 officials were in contact with the network of Gulen, the enemy of Erdogan, who accuses him of being behind the failed coup attempt in July 2016, the agency said.
Gulen lives in the United States and completely denies having anything to do with the coup attempt, saying he runs a network of schools and charities. But the Turkish authorities classified his movement within the framework of "terrorist organisations".
According to Anadolu, 41 of the "suspects" had in the past accounts at the Bank of Asia linked to the Gulen movement, which withdrew its license after the coup attempt. The other two, of the 43, are accused of using encrypted messages used by Gulen supporters, the agency said.
Erdogan on Saturday May 4th called on the Electoral Commission to hold new elections in Istanbul.
On Monday May 6th, Turkey's top election body ordered a re-run of the Istanbul mayoral election, the state news agency reported.
The new election will take place on June 23rd, according to the state-run TRT broadcaster.
The AKP claims there were "irregularities and corruption" that required a re-run of the mayoral election, which was won by Ekrem Imamoglu, of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) by just 13,000 votes, according to AFP.
Moreover, Turkey's main opposition said on Monday it was a "plain dictatorship" that had decided on a re-run of local elections in Istanbul after the election board decided to annul vote results showing a painful defeat for Erdogan's party.
"It is illegal to win against the AK Party," main opposition CHP party Deputy Chairman Onursal Adiguzel said on Twitter. "This system that overrules the will of the people and disregards the law is neither democratic nor legitimate. This is a plain dictatorship."
The winner of the Istanbul elections, Akram Omoglu, described the accusations of fraud as "ridiculous."
"The election is over and the result is clear ... The Electoral Commission will certainly make the right decision for democracy and the country," he told a meeting with his supporters.
Since the failed coup, more than 77,000 people have been jailed for trial. Large-scale arrests continue to occur periodically, and the authorities have suspended or isolated 150,000 government and military personnel after accused them with Gulen links.