Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced on Monday that the former mayor from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spent more than 1 billion Turkish lira on statues and outdoor furniture after accusations of extravagance against him for a 1,600,000 lira budget for the same items.
Melih Gökçek, who had been Ankara’s mayor for 23 years between 1994-2017, was harshly criticized for the expenditures of the metropolitan municipality during his term in office as he launched theme parks featuring giant statues of robots and dinosaurs that cost nine-digit figures.
AnkaPark, one such theme park, had been closed after operating for a mere seven months in 2017.
Gökçek was forced to resign as Ankara mayor by AKP leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in October 2017.
During a meeting of the municipal council on Monday, Mayor Yavaş took a swipe at the council members from the AKP, who accused him of corruption and wasting public resources, comparing the numbers spent on various items during his time in office with those the previous AKP administration.
“Was this Ankara’s priority? Was this the municipal work you have been advocating? Are these [expenses] the things you say we are not capable of providing? We will never do such things. You won’t see us throwing away people’s money in Ankara,” Yavaş said.
Yavaş became mayor of Turkey’s capital city after his victory in local elections on March 31, 2019.
He was jointly nominated by the main opposition CHP and the İYİ (Good) Party after losing the 2014 Ankara mayoral election by a narrow margin.
Yavaş’s election was welcomed by many as a historic change for Ankara, where Gökçek, whose tenure was marred by claims of corruption, had won five consecutive elections for mayor between 1994 and 2017.