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Election protest in Turkey

April 1, 2014

Turkish riot police have fired water cannon at opposition protesters demonstrating against local election results. The weekend vote was dominated by the ruling AKP party of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Riot police use water cannon to disperse protesters outside the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) in Ankara April 1, 2014.
Image: Reuters

Hundreds of demonstrators massed outside the elections authority in the Turkish capital, Ankara, in support of Republican People's Party (CHP), which is disputing the results of the Ankara mayoral race and other areas.

Riot police used water cannon to break up the protesters, who chanted "Thief Tayyip!" and "Ankara, don't sleep. Stand up for your vote!" A spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) party claimed the opposition used social media to draw the crowds in.

"Everyone has a natural right to object but no-one can achieve anything by mobilizing the crowds through social media and provoking them," said Huseyin Celik.

Sunday's local elections were conducted to determine provincial assembly members and city mayors, and were seen as a litmus test for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP, despite him not being on the ballot. It comes amid corruption claims against Erdogan's inner circle and a crackdown on internet access.

The elections were mostly peaceful although at least eight people died in clashes in rural areas.

Unofficial results show that, nationwide, the AKP party received about 45 per cent of the votes, compared to about 28 per cent for the CHP. In Ankara, the AKP appears to have only narrowly won over the CHP, but by a wide margin in Istanbul.

There have been claims of election fraud on social media, including a photo purportedly showing ballots in a garbage heap. The Republican People's Party has also claimed discrepancies between votes registered with the election board and the party's own ballot counts.

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

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