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Parliament speaker running for Istanbul mayor says elections not political activity

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Turkey’s Parliament Speaker and former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, who is running for mayor of İstanbul in the March 31 local elections, said on Thursday that competing in elections cannot be considered political activity.

His remarks came in response to accusations of violation of the constitution since Article 94 prohibits the parliament speaker from participating in the political activity of the his or her party.

Yıldırım is running from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for mayor of Turkey’s largest city.

Yıldırım did not resign from office to run in the local elections, a move that attracted widespread criticism from opposition parties. Responding to the criticism during a meeting with reporters in parliament, Yıldırım argued that resignation from the speakership is not required to run for mayor since “elections are not political activity.”

Yesterday, Özgür Özel, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), claimed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan could be appointed mayor of İstanbul if the AKP’s mayoral candidate for İstanbul, Yıldırım, is elected but decides not to assume office.

Özel claimed that Yıldırım would not leave the post of speaker if he is elected mayor of İstanbul and that a member of the İstanbul municipal council would be appointed mayor of Turkey’s largest city.

“The name of Bilal Erdoğan is among those mentioned [as the possible mayor],” said Özel.

The CHP deputy also said Yıldırım not resigning from his post as speaker to run in the local elections will go down as a “black stain” in Turkish history.

Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albrayrak is Turkey’s former energy minister and current treasury and finance minister.

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