Thursday , April 25 2024

Turkey’s Erdogan indicates election will be on May 14


ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that national elections will be held on May 14, sticking to his previous plan for the vote with a date just over three months after devastating earthquakes killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey.

“This nation will do what is necessary on May 14, God willing,” Erdogan said in a speech to parliamentarians from his AK Party in parliament on Wednesday.

There had been conflicting signals over the likely timing of the presidential and parliamentary elections since last month’s earthquakes, with some suggesting they could be postponed until later in the year or could be held as scheduled on June 18.

Before the disaster, Erdogan’s popularity had been eroded by the soaring cost of living and a lira slump.

The Turkish government has since faced criticism over its response to the deadliest quake in the nation’s modern history.

While Erdogan has accepted there had been problems with the earthquake response, he has also defended it, and said “negative campaigns” had been conducted for “political interest(s)”.

Erdogan, aiming to extend his rule into a third decade, previously said he was bringing the votes forward to May to avoid holidays in June. Polls suggest they would present his biggest electoral challenge yet.

Doubts had been expressed about the ability of election authorities to make logistical arrangements for voting in the quake-hit zone, home to some 14 million people.

A three-month state of emergency was declared in Turkish provinces affected by the earthquake on February 7, a day after it struck.

A devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria killed more than 50,000 people, a revised toll that now includes figures from both government and rebel-controlled parts of war-torn Syria.

A total of 5,951 people were killed across Syria, while Turkey recorded 44,374 deaths after the Feb. 6 earthquake.

The new tally brings the total number of deaths caused by the disaster across both countries to 50,325.

The Syrian government said 1,414 people had been killed in areas under its control, while Turkish-backed officials in Syria have put the death toll at 4,537 throughout rebel-held areas of the country.

The toll in areas outside government control includes deaths in territory held by rival rebel groups.

Local authorities relied on data collected from hospitals, medical centers and civil defense in Idlib and northern Aleppo province, said health official Maram al-Sheikh.

They also included civilian sources, he said, many of whom buried their dead without taking them to hospital.

The toll was finalized with help from the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) organization, a local U.N. partner.

The U.N. said it relied on the ACU’s data, including death tolls.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor had reported 2,243 people killed in government-held areas recording 824 more deaths than the official toll.

Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based group, said their tally was higher because it included “50 villages that rescuers did not reach.”

The group, which relies on a wide network of sources inside Syria, had reported the same death toll as the rebels in the northwest. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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