Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday interrupted a live television interview before returning and apologizing, saying he had developed a stomach bug, Agence France-Presse reported.
The 69-year-old Turkish leader on Tuesday gave three campaign speeches heading into a knife-edge parliamentary and presidential election on May 14.
He was due to close out the night by appearing live for a joint interview with Ülke TV and Kanal 7.
However, his television appearance began more than 90 minutes behind schedule and then cut off in the middle of a question ten minutes into the show.
The camera shook and the reporter asking the question stood up from his chair when the broadcast cut off.
Erdoğan yayındayken neden eyvah eyvah sesleri geldi? neler oldu acaba! pic.twitter.com/qMVYFkZe22
— TÜRKİYE GERÇEKLERİ (@MstSelanik) April 25, 2023
“Oh wow,” an unidentified voice could be heard saying off camera.
Erdoğan returned about 15 minutes later to apologize for getting sick.
“Yesterday and today were hard work. That’s why I got a stomach flu,” Erdoğan said.
“At one point, I wondered if it would be misunderstood if we cancelled the program. But we promised. I ask for your and our audience’s forgiveness.”
His face looked tired and his eyes appeared to water as he spoke.
The Turkish leader then took a few more questions before ending the broadcast.
Erdoğan and his Islamic-rooted party have dominated Turkish politics for the past 20 years.
But the campaign is posing one of Erdoğan’s toughest challenges of his mercurial rule.
Polls show him running neck-and-neck or losing to opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
“I convey my best wishes to Mr. Erdoğan,” Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted moments after the episode aired.