Turkish gov’t to boost polls security in the wake of Istanbul attack

Turkish gov’t to boost polls security in the wake of Istanbul attack

Turkish gov’t to boost polls security in the wake of Istanbul attack

Hundreds of MHP members attended Cengiz Akyıldız's funeral on Jan 27. AA photo

The government has said it will take additional security measures for the upcoming local elections in the wake of an attack against the nationalist opposition party’s Istanbul election office that killed a party advisor on Jan. 26. 

“Our Interior Ministry is doing its normal job. But apart from routine measures taken in every election period, there are some issues to pay more attention to [in terms of election security] given current circumstances,” deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç said at a press conference following the weekly cabinet meeting. 

Security in the elections has come up as an issue following consecutive attacks on election offices of political parties and after Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek’s claim that there could be political assassinations on the eve of local elections slated for March 30. Sunday’s attack against the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) election office in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul killed Cengiz Akyıldız, an advisor from the party’s Istanbul headquarters, and wounded seven others. An unknown group of people reportedly opened fire after throwing stones at the party members.

Last week there were clashes between sympathizers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Van, a southeastern Anatolian town, raising concerns that tensions could spread. 

“Some 50 million people will cast their votes in the elections. It’s possible that some illegal organizations would try to influence elections and cause some unwanted acts. Our police department is on the alert or if not will be on alert. All necessary measures are to be taken. We don’t have any concerns [with regard to the safety of elections],” he stressed. He also called on intelligence services to be more cautious regarding such provocative moves ahead of the election period. 

Arınç expressed his condolences over the killing of Akyıldız and said the Interior Ministry was working hard to find those responsible for the attack. 

Bahçeli furious after attack

Akyıldız’s funeral was held yesterday in Istanbul with the participation of the MHP’s leader, Devlet Bahçeli. Speaking to media after the funeral, Bahçeli criticized the Interior Ministry and the media for describing the attack as a fight between two rival groups and called on the police department to immediately bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice.

Bahçeli said Interior Minister Efkan Ala called him on Jan. 27 morning to inform about the police investigation into the attack. 

“The press must give the correct information. If the press will distort the news and deceive public opinion, then it makes it Turkey’s problem. Some journalists are trying to depict this attack as a clash between two different groups and as an ordinary crime,” Bahçeli said. If one of these rival groups is the MHP, Bahçeli stressed, “Than the other group is either the media or the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party], and its sympathizers.” 

Meanwhile, President Abdullah Gül, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek and representatives from political parties called Bahçeli to express their sorrow over the attack.