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In sign of endorsement, former minister Şimşek attends Erdoğan rally in eastern Turkey

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Former deputy prime minister and finance minister Mehmet Şimşek, who recently rejected an offer from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to rejoin his party and economy team, attended an election rally Erdoğan held in Şimşek’s hometown in eastern Turkey on Wednesday.

Şimşek’s attendance at the rally in Batman has been interpreted as his endorsement of the presidential candidacy of Erdoğan, who has been campaigning for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for this Sunday.

Şimşek posed for a photo with other former ministers from Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Şimşek, a former Merrill Lynch London economist and strategist who served in parliament between 2007 and 2018 from the AKP, was not nominated by the party in the general election of 2018.

He announced on Twitter in March that he had a cordial meeting with Erdoğan at AKP headquarters in Ankara but does not plan to enter active politics due to his work with financial organizations abroad, although he did say he’s ready to offer his help to Erdoğan’s government in his area of expertise.

Şimşek’s refusal to join Erdoğan came yet as another blow to the president, who is desperately seeking new allies ahead of what many say the most challenging election in his career.

Erdoğan, who was first elected to the presidency in 2014, is seeking re-election at a time when opinion surveys show him running neck-and-neck or lagging behind Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the presidential candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties.

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