Erdoğan partisans setting up armed training camps - opposition party leader

Training camps for armed civilian paramilitaries had been set up in Turkish cities, the leader of a new dissident nationalist party said.

The secularist newspaper Cumhuriyet quoted Good Party leader Meral Akşener as saying she had heard such training camps had been set up in the central cities of Konya and Tokat.

Akşener, known as “she-wolf” by her admirers, formed a breakaway party to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in November, a potentially vote-splitting move that could loosen his grip on power.

Akşener told opposition newspaper Sözcü that there were strong claims that some people were wandering around with weapons while a debate continues over whether a government decree that sanctioned civilian resistance to the 2016 coup attempt still offers impunity for action against what might be seen as threats to the state.

“For instance, we hear that there are armed training camps in Tokat and Konya … We want this to be researched and we want to be informed,” Akşener was quoted as saying. “There are rumours that these people will have a role during the election period and will create disorder if there is an unwanted result.”

Turkey is to hold local, parliamentary and presidential elections by November next year with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) looking shaky after more than 15 years in power.

Akşener said one of the armed groups was named SADAT, which is the name of a private defence contractor.

“There is nervousness on the Justice and Development Party (AKP) side as they cannot see their success clearly in the polls regarding the presidential election. They want to keep the voters away from the ballot boxes,” Akşener said.

“They are trying to scare the people saying ‘SADAT will be at the ballot boxes or some other armed organisation will be checking the ballots’. I tell people not to be scared all the time. We need peace and we will bring it.”

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