.
.
.
.

Erdogan vows ‘strong new Turkey’ in rally

Sunday’s election is the country’s first direct presidential poll

Published: Updated:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday spoke to tens of thousands of supporters with a call for a strong and new Turkey, as he held his final rally ahead of presidential polls on Sunday that he is widely expected to win.

“You elected the people’s party on November 3 (2002) and God willing, you will elect the people’s president tomorrow,” Erdogan said in Konya, Agence France-Presse reported.

In his final rally, Erdogan vowed he would raise Turkey’s democratic standards and economic record to create a “world leader and global power.”

He also boasted Turkey’s foreign policy would be “more proactive” under his tenure.

“We will be the advocate of justice in the world,” he said.

He has called for constitutional changes after the 2015 general election to give the presidency U.S.-style executive powers.

Sunday’s election is the country’s first direct presidential poll, with Erogan looking set to continue more than a decade in power, although this time is hopeful to become less of a ceremonial figure than Abdullah Gul, the current outgoing head of state.

Erdogan’s ruling party has presided over a dynamic economy having won every election since it came to power in 2002.

“God willing a new Turkey will be established tomorrow. A strong Turkey will be born out of its ashes once more tomorrow,” Erdogan told cheering loyalists in the conservative central Anatolian city of Konya.

AKP bastion

Konya is known as the bastion of his Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the rally marked the culmination of almost 30 mass election meetings Erdogan has held up and down the country since early July.

A recent survey found that Erdogan would win in the first round with 57 percent of the vote against his rivals - the main opposition candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas.

A former Islamic firebrand, Erdogan has often bashed Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and compared the offensive in Gaza to “Hitler-like fascism.”
Meanwhile on Saturday, a Turkish journalist critical of the government has been arrested in Istanbul, the Associated Press reported.

Mehmet Baransu, who writes for the Taraf newspaper, was arrested overnight for defamation and “indicating counterterrorism officials as targets.”

The journalist tweeted he was beaten by police and believes he was detained as “revenge” for criticizing Salihoglu. He was released after questioning Saturday afternoon.

Baransu has publicly criticized a government crackdown on Turkey’s police and judiciary for a wiretapping scandal that the government says is directed by people trying to orchestrate a coup.

(With the Associated Press and AFP)