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Turkey’s president calls for a redo after Istanbul’s election — drawing international criticism – National



Turkey’s president calls for a redo after Istanbul’s election — drawing international criticism National


Just weeks after the opposition candidate won Istanbul’s mayoral election, the results are being scrapped and the vote rescheduled after allegations of electoral fraud in Turkey.

But opposition leaders and international bodies are calling the move a blow to Turkey’s democracy.

Turkey’s Erdogan suffers setback after his party loses Ankara in local elections

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party lost the mayoral race by a razor-thin margin on March 31. But he said the elections were affected by “organized crime” and “serious corruption,” citing unsigned paperwork.

Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, who won the mayoral election but has since been stripped of his duties, called the move “plain dictatorship.”

Ruling in favour of Erdogan’s governing party, Turkey’s top electoral body annulled the results of the vote in Istanbul on Monday and scheduled a new vote for June 23.

The decision sparked protests across the city with hundreds of people in Istanbul neighbourhoods gathering together, banging pots and pans and shouting anti-government slogans.

Demonstrators shout anti-government slogans during a protest against the High Election Board (YSK) decision to reschedule the mayoral election in Istanbul, Turkey, May 6, 2019.

REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

Why a new election?

The loss of Istanbul — and the capital of Ankara — in Turkey’s local elections were sharp blows to Erdogan and his conservative, Islamic-based Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

AKP had challenged the results of the vote, claiming it was marred by irregularities.

The Turkish government said the rescheduled vote was called because some electoral officials were not civil servants and some result papers had not been signed.

WATCH: Turkey’s Erdogan says his party may have lost Istanbul mayorship

On Tuesday, Erdogan insisted that redoing the Istanbul mayoral vote will only strengthen democracy and rejected opposition accusations that his party was trying to win back a key election that it had lost.

“We see this decision as an important step in strengthening our democracy, which will enable the removal of the shadow cast over the Istanbul election,” he said.

What critics are saying

The European Parliament said the decision to hold a new vote ends the credibility of the democratic transition of power through elections in Turkey.

Imamoglu, a member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), called out the electoral board, saying it was influenced by Erdogan’s ruling party.

“We will never compromise on our principles,” he said. “This country is filled with 82 million patriots who will fight … until the last moment for democracy.”

READ MORE: Turkish president says it will seek rerun of March 31 mayoral election in Istanbul, citing alleged irregularities

Imamoglu said he will run again as the main opposition in next month’s repeat of the city elections.

Deputy chairman of the CHP Onursal Adiguzel said the rescheduling of the election shows it was “illegal to win against the AK Party.”

“This system that overrules the will of the people and disregards the law is neither democratic nor legitimate,” he said on Twitter.

Why a loss for Erdogan’s AKP could be damaging

Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul in the late 1990s. Before the vote on March 31, the AKP and its predecessor had consistently won in Istanbul since the Turkish president launched his political career there.

Istanbul is also seen as Turkey’s economic powerhouse with a population of 16 million people. As the BBC reports, Erdogan has often said: “Whoever wins Istanbul wins Turkey.”

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics since coming to power 16 years ago, campaigned relentlessly for two months in the capital of Ankara, where he also lost the vote.

WATCH: Turkey headed for one-man rule after election

But the president’s daily rallies and overwhelmingly supportive media coverage narrowly failed to win over the country’s capital or secure a clear result in Istanbul, which was seen as a symbolic shock and a broader sign of dwindling support for his party.

The redo of the vote also threatens to further destabilize the Turkish economy, which has entered a recession.

Turkey’s economic downturn seemed to weigh heavily on voters, as inflation nears 20 per cent and unemployment nears 15 per cent.

The Turkish lira crashed spectacularly last summer over investor concerns about Erdogan’s policies, shaking the economy. It has been sliding again in recent weeks and on Tuesday, it hit its lowest level since October due to the prolonged political uncertainty.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who was elected mayor after the March 31 elections, addresses his supporters after the High Election Board (YSK) decided to redo the mayoral election, in Istanbul, Turkey, May 6, 2019.

REUTERS/Murad Sezer

“This is damaging for Turkey’s perception as a democracy and will leave Turkey’s economy vulnerable, given risks to macro-financial stability in the period to July,” Timothy Ash of Blue Bay Asset Management told Reuters.

Turkey held a redo of general elections in 2015 when the AKP failed for the first time since its founding to form a single-party government. In a repeat election, the AKP found the support to form it again.

—With files from the Associated Press and Reuters

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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