Candlelit vote counting in Gaziantep. AA Photo
While Energy Minister Taner Yıldız blamed the power blackouts during the vote-counting after the March 30 local elections on cats
, the electric switches are actually controlled by businessmen implicated in the Dec. 17 corruption investigation, daily Birgün has reported.
Widespread blackouts affected more than 20 provinces in Turkey
as ballot counting continued on election night. Although the government described the outages as normal, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has cried “foul play.”
Birgün superimposed a map showing the provinces that experienced power blackouts (striped ones) with another map showing private energy suppliers by province (below). “The fact that the leading energy distribution networks belong to the business circles close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
is confusing,” it said.
Istanbul’s European side was among the areas where blackouts hit most severely. The energy distribution company in the area is BEDAŞ, which is chaired by Mehmet Cengiz, who was awarded by the government to build a third airport for Istanbul and was implicated in the massive graft investigation
Cengiz’s partners in the tender were also implicated in the probe
Besides several other energy distribution firms with close links to the government where the blackouts were experienced, there are also others with more direct links to the administration. In the central province Kayseri, for instance, electricity is supplied by a company chaired by Mehmet Özhaseki, an AKP member who has just been re-elected as Kayseri mayor.
Arbitrary power blackouts are illegal according to the Turkish law. Energy distribution companies make a commitment through public tender specifications that they will not cut the electricity except in times of planned outages or extraordinary situations like natural disasters.