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Opposition deputy submits parliamentary inquiry about AA election coverage

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Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer has questioned in a parliamentary inquiry a recent controversy surrounding Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA) on the night of the March 31 local elections, according to Turkish media reports.

AA has come under fire for not updating its election coverage on March 31 at a critical juncture, for 13 hours. AA’s halting of its election coverage came at a time when opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu’s votes reached those of Binali Yıldırım, the nominee of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the race for mayor of İstanbul.

In the parliamentary question, which addressed Vice President Fuat Oktay, Çakırözer asked how AA gets its data for election results, saying that this issue comes to the nation’s agenda after every election.

“Where was the flow of data halted? Is it the headquarters of a political party? Did AA task anyone else other than its reporters with covering the results of the March 31 elections? This controversy, which comes to the nation’s agenda every time there’s an election, should be eliminated,” said Çakırözer, adding that the agency should reveal its list of reporters for election coverage in detail, or else the agency’s administration should resign.

AA employees who spoke anonymously to Deutsche Welle on Tuesday said they as well as many department managers do not have access to the system established for election coverage, adding that only a small number of people have authorized access to it.

In a statement on Tuesday Şenol Kazancı, the director general of AA, said after noticing the pause on election night he called their results subcontractor to warn them, but he refrained from revealing which company it was. “The details aren’t important,” he said.

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