Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday met with 29 metropolitan mayors at his presidential palace in Ankara and asked them not to look for the mistakes of former mayors, in a move that many interpreted as aimed at covering up corrupt acts of former Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayors.
The meeting was attended by İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
“The job of mayors is not going after their predecessors but to provide the best services to our cities,” Erdoğan said at the meeting.
İmamoğlu and other opposition party mayors have angered Erdoğan and his AKP as they revealed some acts of former AKP mayors that amounted corruption, extravagance and favoritism.
İmamoğlu was elected mayor of İstanbul after a repeat election on June 23 because the İstanbul results of the March 31 local elections were cancelled by the country’s election authority due to objections from the AKP.
İstanbul has been ruled by the AKP and its predecessors for the past 25 years.
At the meeting Erdoğan also criticized some mayors who fired municipal employees after they took office.
İmamoğlu and other opposition mayors fired some municipal staff who they said were employed by AKP mayors although they were not qualified for the posts or were paid without actually working for the municipality.
“Nobody can build politics or services over the cries of people who were fired, hurt and devastated,” Erdoğan told the mayors.
Some found his remarks ironic given the fact that around 150,000 public workers were fired by the government through controversial decrees in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016 under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.