Turkey President Faces Voter Fury After Earthquake
Hakan Tanriverdi has a simple message for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan days after Turkey suffered its worst disaster in generations: “Don’t come here asking for votes.”
The earthquake that killed more than 21,000 people across Turkey and Syria came at one of the most politically sensitive moments of Erdogan’s two-decade rule.
The Turkish leader has proposed holding a crunch election on May 14 that could keep his Islamic-rooted government in power until 2028.
The date gives his splintered opposition little time to hammer out their differences and agree on a joint presidential candidate.
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Whether that vote can now go ahead as planned remains to be seen.
Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency across 10 quake-hit provinces. The region is still digging out its dead and many are living on the streets or in their cars.
Campaigning here seems out of the question.
But there is also a political dimension that is deeply personal for Erdogan.
The earthquake struck just as he was gaining momentum and starting to lift his approval numbers from a low suffered during a dire economic crisis that exploded last year.
Tanriverdi’s bitterness is a bad sign for Erdogan in a province where he handily beat his secular opposition rival in the last election in 2018.
“We were deeply hurt that no one supported us,” Tanriverdi said of the government’s earthquake response.
– Erdogan fights back –
Tanriverdi’s grievances are common in Adiyaman province — one of the hardest-hit by the quake.
Locals complain that rescuers didn’t arrive in time to pull out people who survived the first critical hours. Some pointed to a lack of machinery to drill through slabs of concrete.
“I did not see anyone until 2:00 pm on the second day of the earthquake,” Adiyaman resident Mehmet Yildirim said.
“No government, no state, no police, no soldiers. Shame on you! You left us on our own.”
Erdogan admitted “shortcomings” in the government’s handling of the disaster on Wednesday.
But he is also fighting back. The 68-year-old led a rescue response meeting in Ankara on Tuesday and spent the following two days touring a series of devastated cities.
He is yet to visit Adiyaman.
That upsets Hediye Kalkan, a volunteer who travelled nearly 150 kilometres (95 miles) to help with the Adiyaman rescue and recovery effort.
“Why doesn’t the state show itself on a day like this?” she demanded.
“People are taking their relatives’ bodies out by their own means”.
– ‘Isn’t it a sin?’ –
The sheer scale and timing of the disaster — spanning a large and remote region in the middle of a winter storm — would make any rescue effort complicated.
Erdogan has received a largely warm reception from locals in carefully choreographed visits broadcast on national television.
One elderly Syria, Turkey Quake Toll Rises To 2,300 came out to hug Erdogan and shed tears on his shoulder.
Veysel Gultekin might not do the same if he had a chance to face the Turkish leader.
Gultekin said he had seen one of his relatives’ feet trapped under the rubble after running out on the street after Monday’s pre-dawn tremor.
“If I had a simple drill, I could have pulled him out alive,” Gultekin said. “But he was completely trapped and after a strong aftershock, he died.”
AFP reporters saw more machines and rescue workers — including international teams — around collapsed buildings on Thursday.
But this was not enough to soothe Tanriverdi’s pain.
“People who didn’t die from the earthquake were left to die in the cold,” he said. “Isn’t it a sin, people who have been left to die like this?”
King Charles III’s Visit To France Postponed Over Unrest
Violent protests against pensions reform in France led to the postponement Friday of King Charles III’s trip to the country, highlighting the growing security and political problems faced by President Emmanuel Macron.
The French president has condemned the violence overnight, but the Council of Europe has criticised the “excessive use of force” by some police officers during recent demonstrations.
Charles’ first foreign trip as monarch had been intended to highlight warming Franco-British relations. Instead, it has underlined the severity of demonstrations engulfing Britain’s neighbour.
Macron asked for the postponement during talks on Friday morning, a UK government spokesperson said, the change blamed on a call for fresh strikes next Tuesday on the second day of the king’s tour.
The decision to postpone was made “in order to be able to welcome His Majesty King Charles III in conditions which reflect our friendly relations”, Macron’s office said.
Police arrested more than 450 people on Thursday, according to interior ministry figures. In addition, 441 members of the security forces were injured during the most violent day of protests since the start of the year against Macron’s bid to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
READ ALSO: UK Releases New Banknotes Featuring Portrait of King Charles III [see security features]
More than 900 fires were lit around Paris, with radical anarchist groups blamed for setting uncollected rubbish ablaze and smashing shop windows, leading to frequent clashes with riot police.
But rights groups, magistrates and left-wing politicians have also denounced alleged police brutality in recent days.
And the Council of Europe — the continent’s leading human rights watchdog — on Friday warned that sporadic acts of violence “cannot justify excessive use of force by agents of the state” or “deprive peaceful protesters of their right to freedom of assembly”.
– Over a million –
In southwestern Bordeaux, protesters on Thursday set fire to the ancient wooden entrance to city hall. Charles III had been set to visit the city on Tuesday, after a day in Paris.
Some Parisians felt the cancellation would avoid further embarrassment for France, with the streets of the capital strewn with rubbish because of a strike by waste collectors and protesters threatening to disrupt the royal visit.
“It would be a wiser decision for him to come in a little while so that we avoid a disaster,” Annick Siguret, a retiree in her 60s, told AFP near overflowing bins and a vandalised bank in the capital.
The second leg of Charles’ European tour — to Germany — is expected to proceed as scheduled on Wednesday.
More than a million people marched in France on Thursday, the protest movement reinvigorated by Macron’s tactics and statements over the last week.
READ ALSO: King Charles Escapes Being Hit With Eggs
Uproar over the legislation to change the retirement age — which Macron pushed through parliament without a vote last week — has created another huge domestic crisis for the president just 10 months into his second term in office.
“I condemn the violence and offer my full support to the security forces who worked in an exemplary manner,” Macron told reporters Friday during a trip to Brussels.
Macron’s decision to force the legislation through parliament and his refusal to back down in a television interview on Wednesday appeared to have energised many opponents on Thursday.
– Trash –
Commentators are questioning how the crisis will end, just four years after the “Yellow Vest” anti-government demonstrations rocked the country.
“No one knows where the way out lies,” political scientist Bastien Francois from the Sorbonne University in Paris told AFP.
“Everything depends on one man who is a prisoner of the political situation.”
The leader of the moderate CFDT union, Laurent Berger, said Friday he had spoken to an aide to the president and suggested a pause on implementing the pensions law for six months.
“It’s the moment to say ‘listen, let’s put things on pause, let’s wait six months’,” Berger told RTL radio. “It would calm things down.”
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Piles of partially burnt rubbish littered the streets of Paris on Friday, while blockades of oil refineries by striking workers are beginning to create fuel shortages around the country.
The ministry of energy transition on Thursday warned that kerosene supply to the capital and its airports was becoming “critical”.
More flights have been cancelled until at least Wednesday at airports around the country due to a strike by air traffic controllers.
UPDATED: Adeleke Wins At Appeal Court, Oyetola Slapped With N500,000 Fine
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, set aside the tribunal judgment that nullified the election of Ademola Adeleke as governor of Osun State.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices, led by Justice Mohammed Lawal, held that the appeal lodged by Adeleke to challenge his sack by the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal was meritorious.
The court also held that the sum of N500,000 is awarded as a cost against the All Progressive Congress and its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola.
READ ALSO: BREAKING: Appeal Court Reinstates Adeleke As Osun Governor
During the ruling, the justice resolved that the preponderance of proof that there was over-voting in the elections rested on the petitioner.
The court also maintained that “the party alleging non-compliance with the electoral act must prove its case without merely relying on the weakness of the other party.”
Delivering judgment, Justice Mohammed Shaibu overruled the judgment of the governorship election tribunal that nullified the outcome of the July governorship polls.
The three-man panel revoked the tribunal’s order which directed that a Certificate of Return be withdrawn from Adeleke and issued to his predecessor and All Progressives Congress candidate, Oyetola.
READ ALSO: BREAKING: Court Orders Service Of Petitions On Tinubu Through APC
The Osun tribunal had annulled Adeleke’s victory and affirmed Gboyega Oyetola of All Progressives Congress as the authentic winner of the poll.
The PUNCH reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission had returned Adeleke as the winner of the poll.
INEC said Adeleke polled 403,371 votes to defeat then-incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC, who got 375,027 votes
But Oyetola and the APC rejected the result of the poll and headed for the tribunal.
In its January 27, 2023 majority verdict, the Justice Tertse Kume-led tribunal annulled Adeleke’s victory and declared Oyetola the winner of the poll.
However, a minority judgment by Justice B. Ogbuli affirmed Adeleke as the winner of the poll.
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Displeased, Adeleke and the PDP headed for the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal heard the appeal on March 13 and reserved its judgment.
But the court of Appeal on Friday set aside the tribunal judgement.
[JUST IN] Cash Scarcity: NLC, CBN Meet In Abuja
…We Pushed In N20bn On Thursday–CBN
In less than 24 hours after the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, directed all its branches and affiliate unions to mobilize members for a shutdown of all the branches of the Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN, across the country, over cash scarcity, the apex bank on Thursday evening met with the NLC at the Labour House Abuja.
Recall that the Comrade Joe Ajaero-led NLC, had on Wednesday while addressing journalists said that activities in all branches of the CBN nationwide and the Abuja headquarters will be shut down on Wednesday next due to the cash crunch in the country.
Comrade Ajaero had advised workers to stockpile food items as the industrial dispute with the CBN will be total.
He said Nigerians have been subjected to untold hardship occasioned by the scarcity of naira notes to attend to medical needs and other areas of need.
READ ALSO: NLC Protests: CBN To Flood Banks With Old Naira Notes
It was gathered that the NLC threat to paralyze activities at the CBN necessitated the impromptu meeting which started at about 5 pm on Thursday.
The two man delegation made up of the CBN Deputy Gpvrrnor in charge of operations and the Deputy Governor in charge of Economic Pokicy, told the NLC President that about two billion naira was pushed out on Thursdsy in a bid to address the hardship.
A source privy to the meeting told Vanguard that the CBN promised to ensure that the scarcity of naira notes will come to an end as quickly as possible.
“They said the money they pushed out today is equivalent to the whole money pushed out within the week. They also promised to work day and night starting from this night to ensure that there is enough money in the banks,” the source said.
He further said that the CBN denied the allegation that it was printing money out of the country and that the Governor, Godwin Emefiele has directed that the old naira notes should be made available to customers.
Besides, the source denied the allegation that the old naira notes have been burnt, assuring that there will be remarkable improvement in few days to come.
It was gathered that the NLC President, Comrade Ajaero told the CBN delegation that he was not interested in how much that was pushed out, but only interested in seeing that workers and other Nigerians collect their money in banks without stress..
READ ALSO: NLC Gives FG 7-day-ultimatum Over Naira Scarcity
“The President told them that it does not bother us how much they pushed out, our concern is to see that this hardship comes to a stop.
“He also told them that they should work day and night to solve the problem and will depend on the feedback from the average Nigerians who go to the banks to make withdrawals whether there is improvement before Wednesday next week NLC planned to picket the apex bank ,” the source said.
When contacted, the NLC President, Comrade Ajaero, confirmed the meeting and said that the interest of the leadership is to see that Nigerians are able to withdraw their money devoid of the hardship they are passing through.
“We will only know that they are serious when we see improvement,” he added.
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