ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory for his Islamic-rooted party in Sunday’s key local elections and warned his foes that they will “pay the price” for plotting his downfall.
“Those who attacked Turkey got disappointed,” Erdogan said of a recent spate of damaging online leaks exposing a corruption scandal, speaking from the balcony of his party’s Ankara headquarters.
“I thank everyone who prayed for our victory across the world,” Erdogan told a jubilant crowd, his voice still hoarse from weeks of marathon campaigning for the municipal polls seen as a referendum on his 11-year rule.
“You have supported your prime minister, I thank you infinitely,” he bellowed, sometimes interupted by chants of “Turkey is proud of you”, “Stand tall, don’t bow” and “God is great”.
“You have protected the independence struggle of the new Turkey,” the man sometimes dubbed “the sultan” told several thousand flag-waving followers.
As the vote count continued, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party looked headed for a strong victory nationwide, including in the biggest cities Istanbul and the capital Ankara, over the secular opposition.
Erdogan again threatened to go after his declared nemesis, followers of a Muslim cleric whom he accuses of running a parallel “deep state” undermining his government from faraway rural Pennsylvania.
Erdogan has accused loyalists of 73-year-old imam Fethullah Gulen of the online leaks and of bugging secret security talks on Syria last week, then releasing the audio recording on YouTube. (READ: Turkey bans YouTube after Syria security talk leaked)
“We will enter their caves and … they will pay the price,” he warned. “How can you threaten our national security on Syria? Syria is currently in a state of war against us,” he said. – Rappler.com