İYİ Party leader accuses Gaziantep municipality of blocking her campaign
İYİ (Good) Party leader and presidential candidate Meral Akşener argued that her election campaigning activities were precluded in the southeastern province of Gaziantep by municipality vehicles, as the city’s officials denied accusations stating that the police had implemented standard security procedures.
“If those who rule this country think they can stop us with garbage trucks, they are very wrong,” İYİ Party leader Akşener said through her official Twitter account on June 2. She posted the message on her way to the southeastern province of Osmaniye after she had given a speech in Gaziantep on June 2.
Her campaigning convoy composed of several vehicles was stopped by dust cards blocking the roads in Gaziantep, as Akşener argued that the block was a deliberate measure to hinder her campaigning. “Shame on the governor and the mayor. As you can see, it is a garbage truck. A leader of a political party has been blocked,” Akşener said next to the vehicles on June 2.
İYİ Party members argued that the rally in Gaziantep also faced difficulties as the roads leading to the rally field were also blocked, and citizens and vehicles had difficulty reaching the rally. They argued that all the roads leading to the meeting field were blocked by large vehicles belonging to the municipality, and the square was evacuated on the ground of a bombing alarm.
Following these accusations, the Gaziantep Provincial Police Department said the measures taken for the rally were a standard security procedure that has been implemented for all grand rallies, including the ones for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
“As a part of those measures, heavy equipment belonging to the municipality, public institutions and police headquarters are used for the blocking of the main roads and boulevards as a measure against possible bombed vehicle attacks,” the statement from the department read.
“The measures, which are taken to ensure a peaceful finalization of political party meeting programs, are implemented with an utmost sensitivity,” the statement added.
The metropolitan mayor of Gaziantep from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Fatma Şahin, reiterated the police headquarters’ statement with a video posted on her official Twitter account on June 3, stating that the blockage is a standard measure, “which has been taken for 16 years.”
She also criticized Akşener for manipulating the situation in her interest with a “lack of information.”
“No one should play the victim,” she said.
Meanwhile, in the northwestern province of Bursa, a campaign desk for the İYİ Party was attacked by a group supporters for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), NTV reported on June 3. Six people were injured in the fight between the two groups.
Police intervened to quash the fight between the groups, as a policeman had to fire a gun into the air.