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Iran Press TV

Turkey's CHP opposition party names Muharrem Ince as presidential candidate

Iran Press TV

Fri May 4, 2018 11:42PM

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has presented senior legislator Muharrem Ince as its presidential candidate to challenge incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the country's June presidential elections.

The CHP leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, announced Ince's candidacy for the June 24 snap poll on Friday at a packed hall of party meeting in the capital Ankara, alleging that "democracy is under threat" in the Anatolian country under Erdogan, while also touching on the slumping economy and issues in education and foreign policy.

Kilicdaroglu, then, put a Turkish flag pin on Ince, in a symbolic show of neutrality, saying, "A president should embrace 80 million people."

Ince, a 54-year-old former physics teacher from the northwestern province of Yalova, joined the CHP in the early 1990s and has been a lawmaker for the past 16 years. Known for his fiery and impassioned rhetoric, he became the CHP's deputy group leader in 2007 and was unanimously selected by all 110 CHP MPs as the best rival the party can present for the rhetorically-gifted Erdogan.

"On June 24, I will, God willing, be president by the wish of the people," Ince said after being called to the stage at an Ankara rally by Kilicdaroglu, adding, "For 80 million people... I will be everyone's president."

Ince, who is famous to have made fierce speeches in parliament against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), then removed his CHP label pin and gave it to Kilicdaroglu, telling the CHP leader, "I have carried the party's badge for 39 years", but to demonstrate that I will be "an impartial president,… I am now giving my pin to you."

However, Ince will have a an uphill struggle to convince voters as he is racing, in a gloves-off approach, against the veteran Erdogan, who has been in power either as the prime minister or president since 2003, raising the prospect of a potential bruising political campaign.

"Our future is slipping away from our hands, they are destroying our joy of life, they are stealing not only ours but our children's future too. Our people are unemployed, left without food, without a voice, without a breath. It is our job to show them the way out," Ince further said.

He also stressed that his presidential campaign, which will officially begin in his hometown Yalova on Saturday with a rally, will focus on the two issues of fighting against terrorism and alleged corruption. "We will take back our future," Ince added.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is also strongly critical of Erdogan, has already presented charismatic former leader Selahattin Demirtas as its presidential candidate despite the fact that he is currently jailed and on trial in several legal cases.

"Despite being held a political hostage in a cell, I believe I can fulfill this tough mission," Demirtas said in a message read to two separate rallies in Istanbul and the Kurdish majority city of Diyarbakir, warning, however, that the race would be "hard and unjust."

A victory for Erdogan would mean extended powers as president based on amendments to Turkey's constitution approved by voters in a controversial referendum last year. In an unexpected move last month, the Turkish president called the elections more than a year earlier than scheduled, saying his administration was facing numerous legal problems, including economic challenges and the war in Syria, which could be solved only with a more powerful presidency.

Rights campaigners and international organizations have already voiced doubts about the legitimacy of the elections which would come under a renewed state of emergency in Turkey. The measure has been in place since a failed coup two years ago, allowing the government to jail or dismiss more than 200,000 people over suspected links to purported coup plotters.

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