ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Saturday to confront opponents inside his own party weeks after he suffered shock election defeats in the capital Ankara and commercial hub Istanbul.
Erdogan and his supporters have up to now blamed the losses on electoral fraud by unspecified groups and launched a string of legal challenges against the results.
“While we’re fighting outside, I have to say, we had people doing us wrong from the inside too,” Erdogan said during a speech at an AK Party retreat, without naming any individuals.
“What is going on in which province, in which district, all that information come to us. We know it all … For the future of this organisation, we will call them to account. We’re not going to carry them on our backs.”
The president did not spell out what actions he would take. Authorities have suspended or sacked 150,000 civil servants and military personnel in recent years, accusing many of them of being involved in a failed 2016 military coup.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and widespread arrests still regularly happen.
Initial results of the March 31 local election showed the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won the mayoralty of Ankara and control of Istanbul – which AKP and its Islamist predecessors have dominate for 25 years.
Erdogan said the party would keep up its legal campaign challenging the results and calling for recounts.
“Until the last moment, we will continue our legal struggle. It is certain that there is a scam here. We have to get the case resolved, so that we can find peace,” he said.
“Although we have won the districts, we will question why we lost the big cities,” he added. “We need to focus on what to do and how to evaluate this process, especially in the metropolitan cities.”
(Reporting by Sarah Dadouch; Editing by Andrew Heavens)