Erdogan refuses to budge over re-run of Istanbul vote

Istanbul (AFP) –


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted Saturday that he would not bow to international criticism over a controversial decision to re-run mayoral elections in Istanbul.

"With God's permission, our people will not bow to threats and the pressure," Erdogan said, speaking in Turkey's biggest city and economic hub.

The Turkish leader has come under heavy fire after the country's top election body last week annulled the results of the March 31 mayoral vote in Istanbul and ordered a re-run on June 23.

The original vote was narrowly won by the opposition candidate, dealing the ruling AKP party its first defeat in the city, which has been controlled by the AKP and its predecessors for 25 years. But Erdogan alleged "serious corruption" in the count.

The move has been widely condemned by Turkey's Western allies.

The United States said that a "healthy democracy" with transparent elections was in Turkey's own interest, while Germany said the decision to annul the election was "not transparent, and incomprehensible to us".

The Turkish leader said: "Those attempting to topple the elected Venezuelan head of state cannot talk about democracy," referring to President Nicolas Maduro.

"Those who do not speak up against the Israeli terror cannot say anything about our struggle for rights," he added.