Campaign to silence Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu must stop

02/06/2021

File photo: Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu addresses supporters after clinching victory in the second Istanbul mayoral elections, June 2019

File photo: Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu addresses supporters after clinching victory in the second Istanbul mayoral elections, June 2019

The Party of European Socialists condemns the latest attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to silence Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu.

The popular leader of Turkey’s biggest city could face four years in jail over false allegations that he insulted Supreme Election Board members.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“The whole world can see that President Erdogan is using judicial games to try and silence a potential political competitor. The campaign against Ekrem Imamoglu must stop.

“President Erdogan is failing to address the COVID-19 pandemic and persistent economic challenges Turkey faces. If he is feeling the anger of voters, he should focus on fixing these problems rather than suppressing opposition voices.

“The AK Party already tried to delegitimise Ekrem Imamoglu through unfounded allegations of fraud. But the voters of Istanbul saw through the smears and put their faith in him. He is the legitimate, democratically elected, mayor of Istanbul. President Erdogan does not want to accept that.”

In March 2019 Erdogan's ruling AK Party accused Ekrem Imamoglu, from PES associate party CHP, of fraud after he legitimately won Istanbul’s mayoral elections. The AK Party forced a re-run of the elections, which Ekrem Imamoglu won legitimately for a second time.

The allegation that Ekrem Imamoglu insulted Supreme Election Board members relates to comments he made following the annulment of the first 2019 vote. Ekrem Imamoglu is reported to have said the Board’s decision affected Turkey's international standing, describing the ruling as foolish.

The next presidential elections in Turkey are scheduled for 2023.