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Municipal energy company’s staff tasked with campaigning for AKP candidate, opposition deputy says

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Mahmut Tanal, deputy for İstanbul from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has claimed that a natural gas company owned by the İstanbul Municipality urged its personnel to campaign on behalf of the ruling party candidate for mayor of the city, Binali Yıldırım, the Diken news website reported on Friday.

The claim came as İstanbul prepares to choose between Yıldırım and CHP nominee Ekrem İmamoğlu in a repeat mayoral election slated for June 23, after the country’s election authority controversially canceled İmamoğlu’s earlier victory against Yıldırım, who was fielded by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Tanal said the top executive at İstanbul Gaz Dağıtım A.Ş. (İGDAŞ) sent phone messages to company personnel, assigning them to visit families in need, to hand out food packages and to ask them to vote for Yıldırım.

According to the claim, rental vehicles without the İGDAŞ logo were allocated for use during these visits.

Some of the İGDAŞ staff who were reportedly uneasy about endorsing Yıldırım grudgingly joined their superiors in the visits out of fear of being laid off.

The company released a statement on Twitter in response to Tanal’s allegations, confirming what they referred to as “visits of empathy,” while denying having any political motive or agenda behind them.

“These periodic visits are carried out on a volunteer basis and only by executive staff,” İGDAŞ said. “The gift involved is only a box of chocolates, which is a tradition during religious holidays.

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