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AKP official defends mayoral candidate accused of theft, saying ‘he is our thief’

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The head of a local branch of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the southern Turkish province of Mersin has stood up for the party’s mayoral candidate, also the incumbent in the office, who faces accusations of theft, saying that he is their own thief, according to video footage made public by an opposition deputy.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Tuncay Özkan posted the video in which AKP branch chairman in the Çamlıyayla district, Mehmet Ali Yetiş, talks about the accusations of theft faced by the party’s mayoral candidate for the district.

Turkey will hold local elections on March 31.

“We have two options. Either you will be on the side of the traitors or… Many people have accused our current mayor of theft and wrongdoing. I am telling you it is better to be on the side of the thief than on the side of the traitors. The thief is our thief, friends,” Yetiş says in the video, warning that if the AKP loses the elections in the district, there will be serious consequence for the locals.

The candidate is Çamlıyayla’s current mayor, İsmail Tepebağlı, who is from the ranks of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) but a joint mayoral candidate of the AKP and the MHP, which has formed an election alliance.

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