Tuesday 25 September 2018

Erdogan promises fresh push against Kurds as he unveils election manifesto

Supporters of President Tayyip Erdogan wait for his arrival for AK Party’s Istanbul congress yesterday. Photo: Osman Orsal/Reuters
Supporters of President Tayyip Erdogan wait for his arrival for AK Party’s Istanbul congress yesterday. Photo: Osman Orsal/Reuters

Dean Gray

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday promised new military operations against Kurdish militants along its border in Syria and Iraq as he presented his election manifesto.

Speaking before thousands of supporters in Istanbul, Mr Erdogan described next month's snap presidential and parliamentary polls as a "milestone" for Turkey. The country would "take the stage as a global power," he vowed.

Mr Erdogan called elections more than a year earlier than planned for June 24 - a move analysts say partly aims to capitalise on nationalist sentiment running high following a successful campaign that ousted Syrian Kurdish militia from the Syrian border enclave of Afrin.

"In the new term, Turkey will add new operations to the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations," Mr Erdogan said in reference to a cross-border offensive in Syria 2016 and to the one in Afrin. "The operations will continue until not one terrorist is left."

The elections are hugely important as they will transform Turkey's governing system to an executive presidency, ushering in a constitutional change that was narrowly approved in a referendum last year. As part of the reforms, the office of the prime minister will be abolished, with its powers largely transferred to the president.

An alliance of opposition parties, who argue the new system will lead to one-man rule, have vowed a return to a parliamentary system with strong checks and balances.

Aiming to ease fears over Turkey's economy, Mr Erdogan promised lower interest rates and inflation and to reduce the current account deficit.

Meanwhile, the presidential candidate for Turkey's main opposition has hit out at a lack of mainstream media coverage for opposition parties and candidates before elections in June.

Muharrem Ince, the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) candidate to challenge Mr Erdogan, said a "media embargo" had been placed on opposition parties upon Mr Erdogan's request.

"Television channels, which even broadcast the AK Party's provincial congresses live, did not show our rally in Yalova live. We will go on by fighting with this media structure," Mr Ince said on Twitter yesterday.

"If the media embargo ordered by the palace continues, we will hold our rallies in front of TV stations," he said, referring to the 1,000 room presidential palace built by Mr Erdogan in Ankara.

Irish Independent

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