Istanbul’s new mayor preparing for government’s attempts to curb his powers - AP

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the new mayor of Istanbul, said on Friday he was ready to work with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan but that he was also preparing to deal with any attempts by the government to restrict his powers, Associated Press reported.

İmamoğlu was authorised as Turkey’s financial powerhouse’s mayor on Thursday, after he won the Istanbul rerun on June 23 with more than 800,000 votes. The politician also declared victory in Istanbul in local polls in March, but the vote was annulled after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) appealed the results citing electoral irregularities.

Losing Istanbul is considered as a major setback for the AKP and Erdoğan both financially, as the province represents one-third of the country's GDP, and symbolically, as Erdoğan’s rise to power started when he was elected Istanbul’s mayor in 1994.

Despite being defeated in the mayoral race, the ruling party still has majority in Istanbul’s municipal assembly.

The Turkish government have already put into practice new regulations to bypass the mayor in appointments to municipal companies and to give authority to municipal assemblies, Associated Press quoted İmamoğlu as saying when speaking to international media in Istanbul. The mayor said such measures were against the current laws governing local government.

“We are prepared even for the most risky situations,” İmamoğlu said. “Right now I am the Metropolitan Mayor of Istanbul and Mr. Erdogan is President. I think we can contribute great things to this country and the city by coming to an agreement.”

Ahead of June 23 polls, Turkey’s ruling party and the pro-government outlets accused İmamoğlu of insulting the governor of the Black Sea coastal province of Ordu when he was not allowed to use the VIP lounge at airport.

During a television interview three days before the Istanbul rerun, Erdoğan said the incident might cost İmamoğlu the mayoral office. If the governor files a complaint and if the court hands a “sufficiently long sentence”, İmamoğlu might be removed from office, he said. 

Erdoğan have also called İmamoğlu numerous times ‘lame duck’ to indicate that the new mayor’s job would be difficult without majority in municipal assembly. 

But the Turkish president quickly congratulated İmamoğlu after he who won last weekend’s rerun definitively. Erdoğan said on Thursday that he would support “realistic projects to the benefit of Istanbul”, while speaking in Japan where he is attending the G-20 summit.
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