Opposition leader condemns attacks on Ankara candidate

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party on Tuesday denounced pro-government media allegations against the party’s candidate for Ankara mayor as false, arguing that the Ankara candidate was being smeared because he was poised to win on March 31, independent Sözcü newspaper reported.

Speaking on Star TV Tuesday evening, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu dismissed the abuse of power allegations against CHP mayoral candidate Mansur Yavaş, just weeks before Turkey is set to go to the polls for nationwide local elections. 

Yavaş is accused by pro-government daily Sabah and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials of having abused his position as a lawyer by filing duplicate court claims to recover a $600,000 fee due to his client, harassing the complainant, businessman Necmettin Keskin, to recover the fee, and using a false signature in a legal document.

“These claims are not true,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, according to Sözcü. “These were raised several times before. None of them are right. Why is it being raised now? Because Mansur Yavaş is ahead; the people of Ankara will protect Mansur Yavaş.”

On Tuesday an Ankara court accepted prosecutors' indictment against Yavaş, seeking three years in prison. Yavaş denies the claims, and has described the allegations as “the lowest and most immoral attack” of his political career.

"There is no verdict by the Supreme Court against me. I am the real victim here,”  Yavaş said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that he would file a criminal complaint against pro-government outlets and AKP’s Ankara candidate Mehmet Özhaseki and AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik, both of whom have targeted Yavaş.

“Mansur Yavaş is a proper and moral person. He is not a person who seeks ways to use public resources for himself and his family,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.

While pro-government Hürriyet newspaper posted the Ankara mayoral hopeful’s statements online for two hours, other newspapers of the pro-government Demirören Group, such as Milliyet and Posta, chose not to publish Yavaş’s statements at all.

The CHP denounced this as censorship, as pro-government outlets did not give Yavaş any air time. “You can accuse a person, but he has the right to answer. Why don't you give him time?” said Kılıçdaroğlu.