Erdogan’s party rules out early elections

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Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened his party leadership on Saturday to discuss anti-government protests that have entered their ninth day.

An opposition party leader urged the government to call early elections and renew its mandate, The Associated Press reported.

As thousands of angry Turks on Saturday joined mass anti-government protests, Erdogan met with top officials from his Justice and Development Party (JDP) in Istanbul.

He has said the protest must end immediately, AP reported.

JDP spokesman Huseyin Cilik ruled out early elections, saying rumors that the 2015 general elections would be moved forward were bogus, AP said.

From the early morning, protesters began arriving in Istanbul’s Taksim Square with food and blankets to settle in for a weekend of demonstrations, AFP said, adding to the growing tent city in nearby Gezi Park.

The protests began as a sit-in at a park in Taksim Square to prevent a redevelopment project that would replace the park with replica Ottoman barracks and other buildings.

But a violent police backlash to clear the square of protesters on May 31 outraged many, prompting the protests to spread to dozens of cities across the country.

Since then, three people have died - two protesters and a policeman - and thousands have been wounded. One protester is on life support in a hospital in Ankara, according to AP.

Banners and signs all over the park depict Erdogan as Hitler and continue to call for his resignation.

Head of Turkey's nationalist party, Devlet Bahceli, had called for early elections for Erdogan to reaffirm his mandate, AP said.

“The prime minister's stance and the tumult have deepened the crisis,” Bahceli told reporters. “The prime minister's time is up, we believe he has to renew his mandate.”

Meanwhile, Istanbul’s mayor assured protesters on Friday that Gezi Park will not be turned to a shopping mall, AFP reported.

“We are definitely not thinking of building a shopping mall there, no hotel or residence either. It can be... a city museum or an exhibition center,” Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas told reporters.

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