Turkish interior ministry investigates opposition mayor after local election

Turkey’s interior ministry has launched an investigation against the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s district mayor of Izmir on charges of insulting the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Thursday.

The investigation was the first one targeting the main opposition mayors after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost control over most of the major cities in Turkey, where CHP candidates garnered more votes, following the local election held on Sunday.

The interior ministry has accused Ramazan Ismail Uygur, newly elected mayor of Izmir’s Torbalı district, of insulting the Turkish president and filed a criminal complaint against him.

The ministry released a statement on Thursday saying the complaint was filed against Uygur over his “insulting and threatening” remarks targeting Erdogan during the handover ceremony of the mayoral office.

Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) titled Insulting the President of the Republic reads: “Any person who insults the President of the Republic shall be sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of one to four years. Where the offense is committed in public, the sentence to be imposed shall be increased by one sixth.”

The ruling AKP was defeated in most of the big cities, including Turkey’s two biggest cities, its commercial hub of Istanbul and the capital Ankara, according to the initial results of the local election.

However, the governing party submitted objections to election results in all districts of Istanbul and 25 districts of Ankara, saying the results had been impacted by invalid votes and voting irregularities.

While the recount of the votes in the capital has ended with newly elected CHP mayor securing his office, the process in Istanbul is still ongoing.

Although Erdogan and his ally gained 51.64 percent of the votes and won the race in general, defeats in major cities came as a major setback for him. Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than 16 years dubbed the election a “matter of survival” for the country.

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