Opposition urges Erdogan's cooperation over Istanbul vote

Ekrem Imamoglu, the main Turkish opposition Republican People's Party, CHP, candidate for Istanbul, speaks to the media after a gathering with supporters at CHP headquarters, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party is appealing the results of the local elections in Istanbul, where the opposition has a razor-thin lead.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The opposition candidate running to be the next mayor of Istanbul urged Turkey's electoral body on Wednesday to confirm his narrow victory and asked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to "cooperate" to prevent a slide into uncertainty.

In a major electoral setback for Erdogan, his ruling party lost its decades-old stronghold of Ankara in Sunday's local vote and a tight race for Istanbul, despite winning a majority of the votes nationwide, according to preliminary results.

Erdogan's conservative and Islam-based party on Tuesday filed appeals to contest the results in all of Istanbul's 39 districts, demanding that alleged irregularities be corrected and votes deemed invalid be recounted.

The Supreme Electoral Board ruled in favor of a recount in eight of districts in Istanbul, a city of 15 million that is Turkey's financial and cultural center.

Preliminary results showed opposition Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu narrowly beating his ruling party rival, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, by some 25,000 votes.

Ali Ihsan Yavuz, a ruling party deputy chairman, called Sunday's election "one of the most stained in our democratic history." That contrasts with statements from government officials who had insisted that the country's electoral system is fair.

At news conference at his campaign headquarters, Imamoglu called on Erdogan and his nationalist ally to "contribute to the process to prevent the results in Istanbul, which are being watched by whole world, from dragging (Turkey) into worrisome atmospheres."

"We are asking for justice," he said.

Recalling previous government statements on Turkey's elections being fair, he added: "What has happened that the elections are now all of a sudden the most stained in history?"

The ruling party quickly responded, reproaching Imamoglu for allegedly not respecting the electoral appeals process.

"We have to accept the confirmed results," said Yavuz.

Imamoglu meanwhile, held up a photograph from 1994, when Erdogan was elected mayor of Istanbul, showing the opposition candidate participating in a celebration of his win.

"This is how it should be done," he said.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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