Cumhuriyet, April 22nd
Attack Targets Main Opposition Leader, Kilicdaroglu
“The party which neither respects the will of the people or democracy, and orders banning members of the Republican People's Party (CHP) members from participating at funerals of terror victims, is responsible for the attack on CHP head, Kemal Kilicdaroglu,” a Cumhuriyet reporter said in a lead, article decrying a physical assault which targeted the country’s main opposition leader.
Whilst attending the funeral of a Turkish soldier who lost his life in Hakkari city near the border with Iraq, Kilicdaroglu was attacked by a group of people in Ankara. Speaking after the incident, he said, “This was an attack against Turkey.”
Even though both the defence minister and chief of the army general staff were present at the service, security forces did not intervene swiftly enough to curb the violence and protect the CHP head. Opposition deputies, for their part, blasted the security apparatuses’ dubiously delayed action and credited Kilicdaroglu’s personal guards for preventing a “disaster.” A CHP lawmaker held Turkey’s interior minister responsible and demanded he step down.
Milliyet Gazetesi, April 22nd
“Will the Istanbul Local Election Results Get Cancelled?”
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), citing “organised irregularities,” requested the annulment of local election results for Istanbul, the country’s financial hub, and the holding of a bye-election next summer. In a joint petition, the AKP and MHP based their appeal on claims of ineligible voters participating, unstamped votes getting counted, and unauthorised election guides supervising the ballots. According to Turkish law, polls need to be supervised by government employees exclusively. The far-right parties argued that the 85.5 % of the time, the illegalities worked to the benefit of opposition parties.
The 2019 Istanbul mayoral election took place on March 31st. In addition to a mayor for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, all 39 Istanbul districts elected their own individual mayors, as well as district councillors. For the first time since 1994, when Turkish President, Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, first won power as mayor of Istanbul, the AKP has lost control of the president’s home city and power base, along with four other major cities, including the capital, Ankara.
Cumhuriyet, April 23rd
“Where is Turkey Heading?”
The Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who became an AKP politician in 2012, warned against attempts to provoke public disorder over the attack targeting Republican People's Party CHP Head, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and urged all sides to wait until the results of ongoing investigations are announced.
Responding to Soylu’s remarks, Kilicdaroglu warned CHP followers that the ruling AKP in turn was the one goading the country’s opposition into a confrontation that could spiral into street clashes. Kilicdaroglu also accused Soylu of instigating violence against him and other CHP members. “The person who benefits from political polarisation and bloodshed cannot be an interior minister. His job is not an interior minister, we now know what his job is,” the CHP head said in an oblique hint against Soylu systematically targeting CHP members. “We obtained pictures showing some people distributing batons before my arrival at the funeral,” Kilicdaroglu said, cautioning that, “since local election campaigns, Turkey has been in danger and the government has not yet grasped the risks entailed in taking this route.”
“Security Forces Were Informed ahead of the Assault on CHP Head Kilicdaroglu”
The Republican People's Party (CHP) criticised statements made by the Minister of the Interior, Suleyman Soylu, claiming that the authorities were uninformed about CHP head Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s intentions to attend the funeral in Hakkari city. Confirming that the CHP head had filled in security authorities ahead of his arrival, the main opposition party said that adequate protection should have been provided for Kilicdaroglu.
Milliyet Gazetesi, April 23rd
“A Sharp Comeback”
For a while now, rumours have suggested former prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is seeking to leave the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and establish a new party. Following the attack on Republican People's Party (CHP) head, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Davutoglu has re-entered the country’s heated political arena with outspoken criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP.
Davutoglu’s criticism focused on the following:
• Denying the economic crisis is unreasonable.
• In the war against the Fathullah Gulen movement, the government’s policy has been wrong in protecting senior officials and making low-level members pay.
• Erdogan's way of running the state ... shifting from a liberal logic to a total security orientation
• Seeking to control the judiciary is a crime.
• Media has become a propaganda tool.
• Nepotism signals an all-time low.
• It is unfair for the president to campaign for another party during elections.
• The AKP-MHP alliance has dealt the ruling AKP a serious blow .
Cumhuriyet, April 24th
“Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council Voices First Rejection on AKP Election Appeals”
Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council rejected a challenge by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party for votes cast by sacked public sector workers in last month's local elections to be declared invalid. The workers were fired in the aftermath of a 2016 failed coup and ties to the Gulen Movement, which Erdogan accuses of orchestrating the putsch attempt against his government.
Other appeals claiming manipulation of voter lists and disqualified supervisors having monitored polling stations are still under investigation.
"After this decision, nothing new will change the outcome of the elections and I think in this case we can congratulate the opposition candidate, Ekrem Immamoglu, for winning the mayorship of Istanbul,” New Turkey Party official, Hassan Sayman, said. “Legally, the remaining appeals cannot lead to an election rerun or influence the current results. The AKP is trying to buy time by prolonging the appeals process. Why? I do not know, but something is definitely going on behind closed doors,” Sayman speculated.
A Turkish public prosecutor revealed that preliminary investigations into the attack staged against the leader of Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, showed that perpetrators were goaded into physically assaulting him by renegade statements made by Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, who denied the attack was carried out by partisan incitement and labelled it as an unplanned and individual act of violence.
One of the suspects, who was photographed taking a punch at Kilicdaroglu’s face, was released alongside a Turkish intelligence agent who was arrested by mistake. The CHP has submitted a request to the Turkish parliament to conduct an investigation into the attack. The party claimed that the attack was premeditated and the result of partisan targeting.
Cumhuriyet, April 25th
“Supreme Electoral Council Approves MHP Appeals”
Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council agreed to look into appeals submitted by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) challenging the opposition’s win in the March 31st local elections in the Greater Istanbul Municipality and Maltepe District.
The appeals included questioning the legality and eligibility of some polling station and attending staff. According to Turkish electoral law, polling station guides must be authorised government workers.
The MHP is arguing that there were many polling station heads who were not employed government officials. The Council’s branches in disputed stations, such as the shoreside district of Maltepe, were asked to investigate the validity of these claims and their impact on the final outcome of the Istanbul elections.
Orta Doğu, April 26th
“S-400 Missiles On the Way”
The Russian manufacturer of S-400 missile defence systems announced it will start its delivery process to Turkey at the beginning of July. This announcement comes at a time when the United States has been vocal in its opposition to Ankara’s purchase of Russian missiles and is threatening to terminate Turkey’s participation in its own F-35 strike fighter programme.
Russia, for its part, has offered to sell Turkey Q 35 and SU 57 stealth aircraft. Turkish officials and their Russian counterparts are expected to meet during the International Exhibition of Military Industries in Istanbul early next month.