Turkey opposition chief says won’t congratulate ‘dictator’ Erdogan

Muharrem Ince polled a respectable 30.6 percent but failed to force a second round
AFP

Ankara (AFP) – The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party on Tuesday refused to congratulate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his decisive election victory, describing the strongman as a “dictator” running a one-man regime.

The secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu had chosen Muharrem Ince as its candidate to challenge Erdogan in the elections. Ince polled a respectable 30.6 percent but failed to force a second round.

But his first comments since Erdogan was declared winner, Kilicdaroglu sounded alarm over the new powers the president would assume under constitutional changes that now come into force.

“You cannot congratulate someone who ties the executive, judicial and legislative organs to themselves. You cannot congratulate someone who defends a one-man regime. What are you congratulating?” Kilicdaroglu told reporters. 

“If the person says they will run with a one-man regime to the end, why should I congratulate a dictator?” said Kilicdaroglu.

Ince on Monday said he accepted the results and would call Erdogan to congratulate him. His advisors were not immediately available to confirm if he had done so. 

But amid signs of post-poll strains within the CHP, Kilicdaroglu tetchily brushed off suggestions he should resign and possibly hand over the reins to the more charismatic Ince.

He insisted the “loser” of the elections was the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Erdogan after its vote fell in parliamentary polls but did not criticise himself or the CHP even though its vote also fell.

Kilicdaroglu criticised the “pressure, bribery and threats” during the election campaign while acknowledging there was no fraud in the vote itself.

The CHP chief said the “fight was not fought under equal conditions”.

But in a comment regarded as ungracious by some on social media, Kilicdaroglu said Ince’s vote was “below expectations”.

Ince later on Tuesday tweeted that he would visit all 81 provinces of Turkey to “meet, embrace and thank” everyone, “starting with those provinces I was not able to visit before the elections”.

It was not immediately clear if this move had been coordinated in advance with Kilicdaroglu. Ince has on two previous occasions unsuccessfully challenged Kilicdaroglu for the party leadership, which the incumbent has held since 2010. 

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