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Leaders of opposition bloc meet amid rumors of dispute over presidential candidate

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Two leaders of the “Table of Six,” a coalition of six Turkish opposition parties, held a meeting in Ankara on Tuesday amid rumors of disagreement over the group’s yet-to-be-determined presidential candidate for the upcoming elections.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, whose parties are part of the Table of Six, met for nearly two and a half hours.

While the Table of Six, which consists of the CHP, İYİ, the Felicity Party (SP), the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), has not yet announced its candidate, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already declared that he will run for the “Public Alliance,” comprising his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in the elections set for June 2023.

The meeting between Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener came after reports of a rift between the two leaders since Akşener is said to favor CHP İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu as the bloc’s candidate against Erdoğan instead of Kılıçdaroğlu.

İmamoğlu, a key Erdoğan opponent, was recently sentenced to two years, seven months in prison and banned from politics for allegedly insulting members of Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK), a ruling that must be upheld by an appeals court after a petition is filed.

After the conviction, İmamoğlu called on his supporters to gather in İstanbul’s Saraçhane district, where the municipal building is located. Akşener was the first political leader to attend, while Kılıçdaroğlu was in Germany at the time and returned to Saraçhane during the night after cutting his visit short.

Although no statements were made after the meeting between Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener, Akşener told a journalist on Wednesday that there was no reason for the Table of Six to break up and that they were determined to win the 2023 elections together.

When asked if they discussed the bloc’s presidential candidate for the upcoming elections, Akşener reportedly said the topic would be discussed with all the leaders of the Table of Six at a later date.

An executive from the CHP also told the Gazete Duvar news website that the two leaders’ meeting took place in a “positive atmosphere.”

Kılıçdaroğlu has previously stated that it is the Table of Six that will choose the presidential candidate and that he will accept the role only if the six leaders agree on him.

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