AKP lawmaker promises paradise for ruling party supporters ahead of local elections

A ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy in Turkey’s central province of Sivas said supporters of the party’s mayoral candidate in the March local elections would ensure their place in heaven after death, independent news site T24 reported on Saturday.

Sivas MP İsmet Yılmaz, while campaigning for Hilmi Bilgin, AKP's candidate for Sivas to run in the March 31 local elections, said voting for the candidate was a sure way to enter paradise.

“Your vote for Bilgin will become your exoneration document on the day of judgement,‘’ Yılmaz said, in an apparent reference to forgiveness of past sins according to Islamic teachings while speaking to the AKP’s Sivas youth branch.

Turkey is in a countdown for nationwide elections to choose local representatives for the country’s cities and districts, in what critics say will be a measure of support for the country’s ruling Islamist AKP, following a difficult year marked by a currency crisis.

The AKP won 18 out of 30 metropolitan municipalities in the 2014 local elections with 60 percent of the votes.