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Turkey opposition win in disputed Istanbul vote confirmed — party

By AFP - Apr 17,2019 - Last updated at Apr 17,2019

Candidate of main opposition Republican People’s Party for Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu (centre) arrives to receive his mandate certificate from authorities at the local courthouse in Istanbul on Wednesday (AFP photo)

ISTANBUL — Turkish election officials on Wednesday officially confirmed opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu’s win over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP in last month’s disputed Istanbul election, his party said.

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won most votes nationwide in the March 31 election, but lost the capital Ankara and Istanbul to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in a major setback after a decade and a half in power.

Cheering CHP supporters packed the street outside the local courthouse in Istanbul where Imamoglu, a former city district mayor, arrived to receive his mandate certificate from authorities.

“Ekrem Imamoglu got his mandate,” CHP Istanbul MP Engin Altay told crowds from a balcony inside the courthouse.

Electoral authorities had just finished a recount of some Istanbul ballots on Tuesday and Imamoglu still faces another AKP appeal for the Istanbul election to be held again because of alleged irregularities.

But CHP has dismissed that challenge as without merit and urged the AKP to accept the result.

“I am so happy”, said architecture student and CHP supporter Ilayda Pembe, 25, at the court. “I was beginning to think he would never get the mandate. A new day for Istanbul is starting, a new day for Turkey.”

But the Supreme Electoral Council, known by its Turkish initials YSK, is still to rule on the AKP’s formal demand for a rerun. It was not clear how long that decision would take.

Defeat in Istanbul would be sensitive for Erdogan, who grew up in one of its working-class neighbourhoods and built his political career after being Istanbul mayor himself in the 1990s.

The AKP has won every election since it came to power 17 years ago. But voters punished the party this time after a currency crisis last year hurt Turkish households and tipped the economy into recession.

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