Turkish opposition candidate accuses Erdogan’s government of blocking his campaign text messages to voters ahead of weekend’s election runoff
- Erdogan fell just short of securing outright victory on May 14
Turkey’s opposition leader on Friday accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of blocking his text messages to voters ahead of this weekend’s historic election runoff.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party, accused Turkey’s information and telecommunication technologies authority (BTK) of acting on Erdogan’s orders in order to hurt his campaign.
It comes after Kilicdaroglu sent a text message to citizens regarding credit card debts.
In a text message dated May 25, Kilicdaroglu said, according to Duvar.english: ‘As soon as I assume power, the treasury of our state will take over your credit card debts from the banks due to the economic depression caused by Erdoğan.
The interest on your credit card debt will be completely erased and the principal will be paid in 36 monthly installments. Thus, hundreds of thousands of our citizens will be saved from being crushed under this burden. Remember, the 28 May election is a referendum to get rid of heavy debts or get stuck in debt in the country!’
Turkey’s opposition leader on Friday accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of blocking his text messages to voters ahead of this weekend’s historic election runoff
Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused Turkey’s BTK information and telecommunication technologies authority of acting on Erdogan’s orders in order to hurt his campaign
After his message, the BTK sent an alert to the Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators in Turkey, warning of the Supreme Election Council’s (YSK) latest decision that ‘it is forbidden to make propaganda by sending video, audio or written messages to citizens’ e-mail addresses, mobile or fixed phones.’
‘If it is determined that your company has sent an SMS or made a call in violation of the relevant legislation, I kindly inform you that all necessary actions will be taken by our institution, including the cancellation of the authorization, within the framework of the relevant legislation,’ the BTK told GSM operators in the warning, the daily BirGün reported on May 26.
‘They banned (them) because they are afraid of us,’ the secular opposition leader said in a late-night television interview.
‘I’ve been left in total darkness,’ he separately added on Twitter. ‘I’m asking you, Erdogan, do you not want me to run in the elections?’
Kilicdaroglu’s campaign team said it had earlier sent out a mass text inviting people to tune in to the opposition leader’s television interview.
According to Duvar, it appears that the BTK has not stopped government ministers – including interior minister Suleyman Soylu – from sending texts to citizens during the election period.
BTK issued no immediate comment.
Kilicdaroglu claims came in the final stretch of an increasingly bitter battle for the Turkish presidency.
Erdogan fell just short of securing outright victory on May 14 but is entering Sunday’s runoff as a firm favourite to extend his two-decade rule until 2028.
Opinion polls show Kilicdaroglu struggling to make up the five-point deficit he suffered in the first round.
The two rivals have been campaigning round the clock in what is widely viewed as Turkey’s most important election in generations.
Erdogan appeared in his own national television interview earlier in the day that lasted more than an hour.
In a later post on his Twitter account, Kılıçdaroğlu shared a video on the ‘constant slanders, lies and conspiracies’ he says have been perpetrated against him by the government.
‘Constant slanders, lies, conspiracies, oddities at the ballot boxes, efforts to ban election observers, lie campaigns, montage videos, as well as bans on our mobile screens. Now I can’t send text messages. Telecommunications companies prevent me from texting to (even) journalists,’ Kılıçdaroğlu said.
‘I’m asking Erdoğan, should I not enter the election? Is this what you want? This man is a coward. The country is tearing apart because of a coward. The election becomes impossible. What do you want from this country? Coward man!,’ he added.
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