Ekrem Imamoglu, the new opposition mayor of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has revealed that he canceled the transfer of 357 million lira to charitable foundations close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Tuesday.
Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) ended a 25-year rule by Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) and its predecessors in Turkey’s largest city and commercial hub Istanbul when he won a landmark victory in a June 24 re-run vote.
“The time to serve the man [Erdogan] and foundations, people and religious communities [close to Erdogan] is over,” Imamoglu vowed after winning the mayoral race in Istanbul.
He also promised to uncover what he said was the wasteful transfer of millions of lira to pro-government foundations by previous administrations.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday the mayor stated that he has cut more than 350 million lira funding to pro-government foundations, which marked one of his first moves against Erdogan since he took office.
“As of now, we have completed the cancellation of a total of 357 million lira ($62 million) of resources that were given or transferred to foundations,” he told reporters.
Imamoglu elaborated that the figure included 56 million lira of “food support” to a foundation and 165 million lira of building expenses for another.
“It’s incredible. On what are you spending the people’s money?” the opposition mayor questioned.
“This is only the beginning,” referring to the canceled amount.
Imamoglu’s municipality also annulled its protocol agreements with five foundations receiving transfers, which included the Turkey Youth and Education Service Foundation (TURGEV) founded by Erdogan when he was mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s.
President Erdogan’s daughter, his communication director’s wife, and a former AKP mayor are some of TURGEV’s board members.
The Turkish Youth Foundation (TUGVA), the Ensar Foundation, the Aziz Mahmut Hudayi foundation and the Daru’l Funun Theology foundation are the remaining four organizations close to Erdogan’s family that had protocol agreements annulled and fund transfers canceled.
When asked what he has done to keep his promise to employ 200,000 Istanbulites, the mayor said that his municipality will employ those who are unemployed in Istanbul in a systematic manner within the next five years.
“This country has a massive issue of unemployment. The reason for that is the ruling power’s bad management of the economy. I hope they, too, set a satisfying date about [Turkey’s] issue of unemployment,” Imamoglu emphasized.
He criticized president Erdogan for not giving him an appointment saying as the mayor of Turkey’s largest city he wants to talk about the problems facing Istanbul with the head of state.
During the one and a half years before the March 31 local poll, a total of 847,592,858 TL (around $145 million) was transferred to the foundations affiliated with Erdogan and his family, an audit report made public by CHP Councilor Tarik Balyali had revealed.