Published: Mon, April 01, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Turkey: Air-Defense Purchase from Russia 'Done Deal'

Turkey: Air-Defense Purchase from Russia 'Done Deal'

Turkey's ruling party was ahead in municipal elections and claimed a contested victory in Istanbul while looking certain to lose control of the capital, the culmination of a crucial vote that's testing the popularity of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, it strategically sat out critical mayoral races in major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, with the aim of sending votes to a rival secular opposition party to help challenge Erdogan's party.

Mr Erdogan named former prime minister Binali Yildirim to run against opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in the Istanbul mayor's race.

Still, the CHP appears set to claim victory in Ankara, where unofficial results showed the the party's Mansur Yavas ahead of Mehmet Ozhaseki, the joint candidate for Erdogan's AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), by nearly three percent with more than 87 percent of the votes counted. The independent Dokuz8 News said the records of almost 6,500 voters in Siirt had been erased and police and soldiers had been bussed into the province from across Turkey to vote. The results could approximately show how much support the Turks still have for an executive presidency headed by Erdogan.

Erdogan has campaigned heavily for his party's candidates, declaring Turkey's economic woes "an attack" on the country and framing the elections on Sunday as matter of "national survival".

Defeat in Ankara or Istanbul would end almost a quarter of a century of rule by Erdogan's AKP or its predecessors in those cities and deal a symbolic blow to Turkey's leader.

Turkey's foreign minister said Friday that the purchase of Russia's S-400 air defense systems is a "done deal" and refuted claims over possible delivery of these systems to a third country in order to avoid US sanctions.

The previous local elections were held in 2014.

"In Istanbul, the majority of the districts are either ours or head-to-head".

The HDP denies links to the outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers' Party. The main, secular-oriented opposition party was said to have taken 30.5%.

"I voted for the AKP for continuity and so that their services continue", the homemaker said. He has warned that if the opposition candidate wins in Ankara, residents would "pay a price".

A consummate campaigner, he has been the country's most popular - although divisive - modern politician, tightening his hold on power in elections past year that ushered in an executive presidency, approved in a bitterly fought 2017 referendum.

Voters are to elect scores of mayors, municipal councils and other local officials. Kilicdaroglu told a rally in Eskisehir. The party, which is strongest in the south-east but also appeals to leftists across Turkey, said more than 700 of its supporters had been arrested since the start of the campaign.

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