Turkey: Istanbul mayoral candidates face off in rare live televised debate

The top Istanbul mayoral candidates, Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Binal Yildirim and Ekrem Imamoglu from the Republican People's Party (CHP), faced off in a rare live television debate in Istanbul on Sunday, a week ahead of the re-run of the March 31 elections. The live debate, which is a rare occurrence in Turkey, was hosted by journalist Ismail Kucukkaya. Imamoglu called the appeal... Еще for a re-run «a struggle of democracy endowed against those who usurped our rights, the rights of sixteen million people.» When asked if he will accept the results of the re-run Yildirim replied: «How do you mean? The results of every election should be accepted. But, however, appealing and electing are an act of democracy. During the counting, if appealing is deemed necessary, it will happen. But maybe this time we won't appeal the decision but dear Mr Ekrem will. I think this is something normal for both sides.» Binali Yildirim also addressed the situation of Syrian refugees living in Istanbul and said that there will be a procedure to send them back to Syria once the area in the 'East of Euphrates' will be 'cleared'. He warned however that if «there is a problem of public order, if they disturb the tranquillity of Istanbul residents, if they get involved in incidents, if they do unlawful things, we will send them like that, without waiting for the regular procedure.» Istanbul is reportedly the province accommodating the highest number of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Ekrem Imamoglu from the opposition CHP had won the neck-and-neck election on March 31, in a blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party, who had ruled Istanbul for 15 years. Imamoglu was declared Mayor of Istanbul on April, 17, before the Supreme Election Council (YSK) annulled the results and ordered a re-run based on an appeal by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP, which insisted that voting irregularities rendered the result invalid. The second mayoral election will take place next Sunday, June 23.

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