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Erdogan Pledges to Lift State of Emergency if he Scores Elections Victory

Erdogan Pledges to Lift State of Emergency if he Scores Elections Victory

Thursday, 14 June, 2018 - 10:30
A woman walks past an election poster for Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, Turkey June 13, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Wednesday to lift the state of emergency in his country should he be re-elected during the June 24 snap vote.

Erdogan declared the state of emergency five days after a failed July 15, 2016 bid to oust him from power.

The state of emergency lets Erdogan and the government bypass parliament in passing new laws and allows them to suspend rights and freedoms.

More than 160,000 people have been detained under the emergency rule and a similar number of civil servants have been sacked from their jobs, the United Nations has said. Scores of media outlets have been shut and journalists and activists have been detained.

The state of emergency has become a campaign issue in the presidential and parliamentary elections, with the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Iyi (Good) Party vowing to end it.

"After June 24, if I am given the right to continue in office, our first step will be, God willing, to lift the state of emergency," Erdogan said in an interview with 24 TV late Wednesday.

The state of emergency would be lifted immediately, he stressed.

He indicated, however, that lifting the state of emergency would not necessarily mean an end to the crackdown.

"Lifting the state of emergency does not mean completely eliminating it or returning back to as we were," he added.

"If we see terrorism, we will again take the strictest measures," he said.

His comments came after CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu vowed that its candidate for the presidency Muharrem Ince would lift the state of emergency within 48 hours if elected.

Erdogan had on June 8 said "there could be the question of lifting" the state of emergency after the election but this is the first time he has made such a clear pledge.

The emergency has been criticized by activists who say the measure has been used against all opponents of Erdogan and not just plotters in the coup, which Turkey says was masterminded by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. Gulen denies the charge.

Leftist and Kurdish activists have found themselves behind bars including the former head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas who is running against Erdogan in the elections.

Analysts are forecasting that the parliamentary and presidential elections will be tight, with Erdogan possibly set to be pushed into a run-off and with his ruling party at risk of losing its overall majority.

His support dipped 1.6 points in one week, according to a survey by pollster Gezici published on Thursday.

The poll also showed his ruling AK Party was forecast to lose its parliamentary majority in the June 24 vote.

Gezici’s survey of 2,814 respondents, conducted on June 2-3, showed Erdogan receiving 47.1 percent of votes in the first round of presidential election, down from a level of 48.7 percent in a survey which it conducted a week earlier.

The poll showed that the AK Party’s alliance with the nationalist MHP would fall short of a majority in the 600-seat assembly, with 48.7 percent of the votes, unchanged from the figure in the previous survey a week earlier.

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