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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Hardliners back Opposition candidate running against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Umit Ozdag, the leader of the far-Right Victory Party, announced his support for the main Opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who will be facing off against Erdogan on Sunday

AP/PTI Ankara Published 25.05.23, 04:59 AM
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan File picture

A hardline anti-migrant party on Wednesday threw its weight behind the Opposition candidate who is running against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in this weekend’s runoff presidential race.

Umit Ozdag, the leader of the far-Right Victory Party, announced his support for the main Opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who will be facing off against Erdogan on Sunday. He said he decided to back Kilicdaroglu over his promises to repatriate millions of migrants.

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Ozdag’s announcement came just days after Sinan Ogan, the third-placed contender in the first round of the presidential election on May 14, endorsed Erdogan in the upcoming runoff.

Ogan was the joint candidate of an alliance of small conservative parties, led by Ozdag’s Victory Party. Erdogan received 49.5 per cent of the votes in the first round of the presidential race — just short of the majority needed for an outright victory — compared to Kilicdaroglu’s 44.9 per cent.

Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist and Islamist allies also retained a majority in the 600-seat parliament — a development that increases Erdogan’s chances of reelection because voters are likely to vote for him to avoid a splintered government, analysts say.

In an apparent attempt to woo nationalist voters in the runoff, Kilicdaroglu hardened his tone last week, vowing to send back refugees. Kilicdaroglu, 74, is the joint candidate of a six-party Opposition alliance, which has pledged to reverse Turkey’s authoritarian drift under Erdogan.

Wagner troop toll

The head of the Russian private army, Wagner, says his force lost more than 20,000 fighters in the drawn-out battle for Bakhmut, with about 20 per cent of the 50,000 Russian convicts he recruited to fight in the 15-month war dying in the eastern Ukrainian city.

The figure was in stark contrast with claims from Moscow that it lost just over 6,000 troops in the war, and is higher than the official estimate of the Soviet losses in the Afghanistan war of 15,000 troops between 1979-89. Ukraine hasn’t said how many of its soldiers have died since Russia’s invasion.

Analysts believe the nine-month fight for Bakhmut alone has cost the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers, among them convicts who reportedly received little training before being sent to the front. Russia’s invasion goal of “demilitarising” Ukraine has backfired because Kyiv’s military has become stronger with the supply of weapons and training by its western allies, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview published late on Tuesday with Konstantin Dolgov, a pro-Kremlin strategist.

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