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Turkey’s main opposition party calls for early local elections

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Tuesday called for early local elections, in a challenge to the chairperson of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

During a speech at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “There is no meaning to waiting for 17 months. Let’s not slaughter democracy. Let’s hold elections now,” the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Amid rumors of early polls and debates around Erdoğan’s forced resignation of a number of prominent ruling party mayors including those of Istanbul, Bursa, Düzce and Niğde, Kılıçdaroğlu made the public call at the meeting in Parliament and added: “I openly challenge you. Let’s see who is trying to escape the polls.”

The CHP leader also reportedly said his party would provide all necessary backing for legislation to hold elections before 2019, according to the HDN.

Turkey is due to hold three elections in 2019 – local elections in March, and simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections in November – following recent constitutional amendments shifting Turkey from a parliamentary system to an executive presidential system.

On Monday the mayor of western Bursa province announced his resignation, while Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Melih Gokcek also said he was going to step down on Saturday.

Last month, İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş resigned from his post, saying he would not cut ties with the AKP.

Earlier this month Düzce Mayor Mehmet Keleş stepped down, while last week Mayor of Niğde Faruk Aydoğan also resigned from his post.

Speaking to journalists in Parliament earlier in the day, Erdoğan said early local elections would not be held.

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