Turkish premier Erdogan calls for support at polls | News | DW | 09.06.2013
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Turkish premier Erdogan calls for support at polls

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that he will not give in to protesters in a speech to supporters. He called on followers to show their support at the ballot box, rather than on the streets.

The Turkish premier told supporters on Sunday that he would not back down in the face of protests against his style of government and asked supporters to give him their backing at local elections in March.

Erdogan gave his speech from the top of a bus in the southern city of Adana, urging followers to refrain from violence.

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"We won't do what a handful of looters have done. They burn and destroy. They destroy the shops of civilians. They destroy the cars of civilians," said Erdogan, who also condemned demonstrators as anarchists and terrorists. "They are low enough to insult the prime minister of this country," he said.

Unrest in Turkey spiraled after police launched a heavy crackdown on a campaign against the redevelopment of Istanbul's Gezi Park. Tear gas and water cannon were used, and the demonstration became a protest by secularists and liberals against Erdogan's authoritarian Islamic government.

'Walk with us'

Erdogan predicted that, with the backing of supporters, his Justice and Development Party (AKP) party would win local and presidential elections next year, ahead of a general election in 2015.

"I want you to teach them a first lesson through democratic means at the ballot box," he said. "As long as you walk with us, the Justice and Development Party administration will stand strong,"

"As long as there is life in my body, your prime minister and your party chairman, God willing, will not be deterred by anything." Erdogan added. The premier later traveled to the city of Mersin, where he delivered another speech to followers.

"The youth that curses its prime minister cannot be my youth," Erdogan said in his later address.

Adana was among the cities where there were clashes overnight, with police once again using tear gas. Pro-government rioters were also reported to have joined the fray.

Three people have died so far in the protests, which began at the end of May. Erdogan's AKP party on Saturday ruled out early elections, claiming that parliament and the cabinet were working like clockwork.

rc/dr (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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