“Every Istanbul resident will be served equally without any exceptions. Those working for the municipality will not serve only one administrator or one party but the 16 million people living in Istanbul.”
These are words of Ekrem Imamoglu, the new Mayor of Turkey’s economic capital who received his official mandate 17 days after the local polls due to vote recounts.
Imamoglu, from the Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was greeted by thousands of cheering supporters outside the Istanbul city hall after receiving his mayoral mandate at the courthouse on Wednesday.
He addressed supporters from the roof of a campaign bus outside the city hall. “We never gave up on justice, the law and rights. We never gave up on people’s faith in democracy. We were never unjust to the people. We said we won’t let anyone be treated unfairly and we have not given up on that promise,” Imamoglu vowed.
“We will bring peace, love, and respect to these beautiful people. I salute all the people of this city, with its Turks, Kurds, and Lazs. I salute Sunnis, Alevis, Christians, Armenians, and Rums of this city. We have not given up on peace, democracy, the Republic and values of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,” he added referring to the founder of the Turkish republic.
The crowds gathered in front of the city hall chanted: “Istanbul is proud of you.’’
Referring to the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s alleged involvement in corruption in Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Imamoglu said: “There is no making prize money out of people’s daily bread anymore, there’s sharing. There won’t be any downtrodden people in this city.”
A group of CHP members filed criminal complaints against former Istanbul mayors Kadir Topbas and Mevlut Uysal from the AKP, following the release of audit reports in October 2018. The reports revealed 753 million TL worth of alleged wrongdoings and illicit spending by municipal administrations in 2017.
Imamoglu vowed inclusion and transparency to everyone and promised to be the most democratic mayor in the world.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP on Tuesday disputed the election results and demanded a re-run of March 31 polls in Istanbul, claiming thousands of votes had been impacted by voting irregularities.
If the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) accepts AKP’s extraordinary objection, local elections in Istanbul will be re-run on June 2.
During his speech, Imamoglu said his party is aware of the ongoing judicial process and called on the YSK to end the uncertainty over Istanbul votes as soon as possible.
Who is Ekrem Imamoglu?
Born in the Black Sea province of Trabzon in 1970, he graduated from Trabzon High School and Istanbul University’s Faculty of Business Administration (English). He received his Master’s degree in Human Resources and Administrative Science at the same university.
Coming from a conservative family, Imamoglu joined his family’s business in construction after his graduation. He served as the board chair of the company. As a former amateur
football player, he acted as a board member at the Trabzonspor football club and
Trabzonspor basketball club. He married Dilek Kaya in 1995 and together they
have three children.
In 2008, he joined the main opposition CHP and was elected as the head of the party’s youth wing the following year. He was a candidate for nomination for Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district mayoral office during local elections in 2009 but wasn’t nominated by his party.
On 16 September 2009, he was selected by CHP as the party’s Beylikduzu district head. He was re-elected to this position on 8 March 2012. He then resigned on 15 July 2013 to run for mayor of Beylikduzu in the March 30 local elections held in 2014.
Imamoglu won the race against AKP’s candidate Yusuf Uzun, receiving 50,8 percent of the votes. After then-Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas’ resignation on 23 September 2017, he was nominated to replace him. However, Imamoglu lost to AKP candidate Mevlut Uysal in the Istanbul Municipal Assembly election to fulfill the remainder of Topbas’ term.