Erdogan names ex-environment minister as his party’s Istanbul mayor candidate

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday named former environment minister Murat Kurum as the ruling AK Party’s candidate in Istanbul’s mayoral election in March, bidding to win back control of Turkey’s largest city.

Kurum will stand against incumbent Ekrem Imamoglu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), whose election as mayor in 2019 ended 25 years of rule in Istanbul by the AKP and its Islamist predecessors.

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Last May, Erdogan won re-election as president while his AKP and its nationalist allies took a majority in parliamentary elections, illustrating the challenge faced by the opposition in the nationwide municipal elections on March 31.

“Working shoulder to shoulder, we will definitely bring Istanbul out of the interregnum of the last five years,” Erdogan said at a ceremony to announce the candidacy of Kurum and other AKP candidates in the elections.

Kurum, 47, was environment and urbanization minister from July 2018 until last June, leaving the post after the elections. He was then elected as a member of parliament for Istanbul, Turkey’s commercial hub and a city of 16 million, or some 20 percent of the population.

Kurum was one of the most prominent figures in the government’s response to the devastating earthquakes that shook southern Turkey last February, killing more than 50,000 people.

He studied engineering at university and worked in Turkey’s mass housing administration before his time as a minister.

Erdogan announced his party’s candidates for more than two dozen of the country’s municipalities on Sunday and was expected to announce its candidates for the others, including the capital Ankara, later this month.

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