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Election board rejects AKP bid to annul Istanbul district vote: official

People walk past an election poster of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reading “Istanbul is a love story for us,” in front of the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul, on March 26, 2019, ahead of March 31 local elections. (File/AFP)
The Istanbul election board has rejected a bid by Turkey’s ruling AK Party to annul the local election in the city’s Buyukcekmece district, an AKP official told Reuters on Friday, after the opposition narrowly won the vote in the city.

Rohat Hasbayram said his party would take its annulment request to Turkey’s High Election Board in Ankara. Broadcaster Haberturk earlier said the AKP had applied to annul elections in the whole of Istanbul, but Hasbayram said this was not the case.

Turkey’s main opposition candidate in Sunday’s Istanbul local elections said on Friday he remained ahead by 18,742 votes after a recount of invalid votes in 17 of the city’s 39 districts.

Late on Thursday, election officials expanded the vote recount in Istanbul, broadcaster CNN Turk said, as President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party pushed its appeal against its shock election defeat there. It was unclear how many districts would ultimately see recounts.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu told Turkey’s Fox TV he did not expect the gap between his party and the AKP to change substantially when the recount in the country’s largest city was completed.

“From what I see, it should end this weekend. It will fall into a 18,000-20,000 range, that’s what all the simulations show. These are very tight numbers,” he said.

He said 119,652 invalid votes had been recounted, with 2,184 votes added in favor of the AKP and 785 added for the CHP.

The AK Party said it would also demand a wider check on votes across the capital Ankara, which, according to initial results, it also narrowly lost in Sunday’s nationwide municipal vote.

Those losses, if confirmed, would be particularly painful for Erdogan, whose party and its predecessor have dominated the two cities for 25 years. He launched his political career in Istanbul and served as the city’s mayor in the 1990s.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s High Election Board had ordered a full recount in three of Istanbul’s 39 districts and a recount of just invalid ballots in 15 districts. However, late on Thursday the board decided there would be a full recount in those 15 districts as well, CNN Turk said.