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Turkey's ruling AKP files second request to cancel Istanbul mayoral election Open in fullscreen

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Turkey's ruling AKP files second request to cancel Istanbul mayoral election

Opposition CHP politician Ekrem Imamoglu took office as Istanbul's new mayor on Wednesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 April, 2019

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Turkey's ruling party on Saturday filed a second petition to cancel and re-run the March 31 local elections in Istanbul, which the party lost to the opposition.

Turkey's ruling party on Saturday lodged a second request to cancel and re-run the Istanbul local election.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) last week filed a petition to cancel and re-run the poll, in which its candidate, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, lost to Turkey's largest opposition party.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People's Party (CHP) took office as Istanbul's new mayor on Wednesday following almost three weeks of vote recounts and complaints by the ruling AKP.

The AKP's first request to cancel and re-run the mayoral election was still pending when AKP deputy chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz told state news agency Anadolu the party had submitted a second petition.

This petition, he said, was based on more than 14,000 people who had previously been dismissed from public sector posts under an emergency decree having voted in the election.

Turkey's electoral authority has already banned members of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) from assuming positions won in the local elections due to their having been fired under the emergency decree.

More than 140,000 people were dismissed from public sector jobs following a coup attempt in 2016, which Ankara blames on US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

While many were accused of links to Gulen and the coup attempt, others were fired on suspicion of links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a separatist militia engaged in an on-off civil war with the Turkish state for more than three decades.

The AKP now contends that anyone fired under the 2016 emergency decree should not have been allowed to vote.

Opposition voices have cast doubt on this claim is a valid legal reason for nullifying votes.

Yavuz also claimed that the party had found 424 people who had voted illegally, according to pro-government broadcaster NTV.

Such "voting irregularities" are evidence of "organised crime" at the ballot boxes, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Imamoglu won the mayoral election with a slim lead of around 15,000 votes.

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