‘Incomprehensible’: German FM decries Istanbul election re-run in latest escalation with Ankara


erman Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has condemned Turkey’s decision to re-run the contentious Istanbul mayoral election amid a long-running diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

Turkey’s election commission ordered a do-over of the March 31 Istanbul mayoral election in a move which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described as the “best step” for the country. Istanbul is a key economic region in Turkey and accounts for a sizeable chunk of public spending.

“We see this decision as the best step that will strengthen our will to solve problems within the framework of democracy and law,” Erdogan told his Justice and Development Party (AKP) members in parliament, following widespread allegations of “irregularities and corruption” in the voting process leveled against opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu.

The main opposition party CHP has stated that it will not boycott the June 23 election re-run despite its candidate Imamoglu winning the majority of votes by a narrow margin in March, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV.

However, German Foreign Minister Maas said the will of the Turkish voters was being ignored in Monday’s decision to re-run the election.

“The decision of the High Election Board to annul the local election in Istanbul and order a re-run is in our view not transparent and not comprehensible,” Maas said.

It marks the latest face-off in the long-running row between the two nations, whose relationship deteriorated greatly after a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016. In the ensuing crackdown on opposition in the country, Germany accused Erdogan of human rights abuses, including the arrest of dual German-Turkish citizens, whom Ankara has labeled suspected terrorists.

Germany is home to more than three million people of Turkish ancestry and the two countries have often exchanged rhetorical barbs over diplomatic relations and political practices. A frequent source of conflict has been Germany’s controversial stance on allowing refugees to settle across Europe. Many of the migrants pass through Turkey en route to Europe with some opting to stay there longer term.

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