Serious election fraud allegations, recounts continue

Serious election fraud allegations, recounts continue

Muharrem İnce announced that Vefa Salman had won the race for mayor of the Yalova Metropolitan Municipality after a recount of the votes. (Photo: Cihan)

April 02, 2014, Wednesday/ 17:18:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Political parties continued to raise serious allegations of fraud in the March 30 local elections, which were concluded with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) winning by a large margin, and recounting of votes in various districts continued into the third day after the elections.

Following a recount request from the Republican People's Party (CHP) in Ankara, where the race for mayor was tight, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) called for a recount in Kocaeli, claiming that 117,000 voters not registered in Kocaeli were allowed to cast their votes in the province. MHP Kocaeli branch President Aydın Ünlü petitioned the local election board, providing hard evidence that purportedly serves as the basis for his claims.

The MHP also directed accusations of election fraud at the AK Party in Adana, where the MHP won the metropolitan municipality by 20,000 votes. The AK Party has objected to the result, demanding a recount. At a press conference he held on Wednesday, Faruk Bal claimed that the governing party was pressuring local election boards to change the results.

Another alleged scandal was in Antalya, where EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, according to a photograph shared by the CHP, was present at the Antalya Courthouse, which served as the local election board at the time of the election, during the registration of counted votes. The AK Party won Antalya by a tiny margin, and the CHP has demanded a recount in 19 districts. CHP candidate Mustafa Akaydın claimed that during the vote count, he was ahead in the polls until 1 or 2 a.m., at which point the Anadolu news agency stopped updating the results. After a four-hour wait with no changes, the results finally started coming in, but this time they were changing in favor of the AK Party. He said Minister Çavuşoğlu's presence together with the local police chief put pressure on the people at the election board. “I actually witnessed Çavuşoğlu severely scolding a district election board judge, and I was ashamed to see this. We have documented serious violations of procedure in Kepez [a district of Antalya province], such as an unusually high number of votes that were classed as void.”

“Is it ethical for a minister to watch the vote count standing by the desk of an election board judge, taking the province's deputy police chief along with him?” asked CHP Antalya branch President Devrim Kök, sharing the photograph of the minister observing the vote count allegedly at the Antalya Courthouse. He said he was certain that the CHP will win in Antalya after a recount.

New outcome in Yalova

Meanwhile, a recount in Yalova has reversed the outcome of the election there. According to the latest reports that have not been officially confirmed by the Higher Election Board (YSK), CHP candidate Vefa Salman won the race by six votes. The AK Party's Yakup Bilgin Koçal had won by only one vote in Yalova according to the results prior to the recount.

CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Muharrem İnce announced the change in Yalova on Twitter.

AK Party spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik said while it was true that the CHP was ahead according to the recount, the results were not yet official. He also said objections to the outcomes of the elections in Adana, Ağrı and Hatay filed by the AK Party were being processed by the YSK.

Tension in Şanlıurfa

Tensions ran high in Şanlıurfa province on Wednesday, following an objection filed by the AK Party to the election results in the town of Viranşehir, won by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) according to the initial count. BDP supporters wielding rifles gathered in front of the local courthouse, claiming that the AK Party was trying to steal the municipality that was rightfully won by the BDP. Crowds started gathering outside the courthouse on Tuesday, and most people spent the night outside, chanting pro-terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) slogans.

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