Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused protesters of trying to cause chaos to influence local elections after Turkey’s worst day of civil unrest so far this year.
Erdogan portrays the clashes, and a corruption scandal that’s become one of his biggest challenges as part of an anti-government plot.
“You were supposed to be democrats, pro-freedom. These are charlatans, they have nothing to do with democracy, they do not believe in the ballot box,” Erdogan said at an opening ceremony for an underground train line in the capital Ankara.
“They are saying let’s cause chaos and maybe we’ll get a result. But my brothers in Ankara and Turkey will give the necessary answer on March 30 (in the local polls),” he added.
Riot police clashed with protesters here in Instanbul on Wednesday as mourners buried 15-year-old Berkin Elvan wounded in last year’s protests. His death this week after nine months in a coma sparked a fresh wave of unrest.
On Wednesday night, police fired water cannon and tear gas to stop tens of thousands of protesters reaching Instanbul’s Taksim square.
Many said Erdogan’s silence on Elvan’s death highlighted how out of touch he is with much of Turkish society.