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Turkey’s Interior Ministry bans municipalities from raising funds for coronavirus relief

The Turkish Interior Ministry on Tuesday released a circular informing municipalities that they are not allowed to raise funds to aid victims of the coronavirus epidemic without permission from local governors, the T24 news website reported.

The circular was dispatched to municipal administrations in the morning under the signature of Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

The move came after the opposition-held municipalities of İstanbul and Ankara launched campaigns to raise funds to cover people’s basic needs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

T24 quoted sources claiming that the İstanbul Municipality’s accounts at the state-owned Vakıfbank were frozen after release of the circular and that the Ankara Municipality is preparing to take the issue to an administrative court.

Municipalities can bypass the measure by switching to donation campaigns, for which they would not need any permission, T24 said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday launched the “National Solidarity Campaign” to collect donations to support the financially vulnerable segments of society.

In last year’s local elections Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered unexpected defeats in İstanbul and Ankara, which ended his long rule in the country’s two largest cities.

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