Huge crowds witnessed Istanbul’s new mayor Ekrem Imamoglu take office on Thursday, where he hailed his stunning double victory as a step toward repairing Turkey's damaged democracy.
The potential new opponent to President Tayyip Erdogan returned to Istanbul city hall to take up the seat he was forced to leave by government officials.
Imamoglu won a decisive victory on Sunday, his second in three months after authorities annulled the original vote, prompting widespread international condemnation.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate’s first task is to take the reins from Erdogan’s AK Party which, along with its Islamist predecessor parties, has run the city for 25 years.
"The people of Istanbul have confirmed their attachment to the Republic and to democracy," Imamoglu told the jubilant, flag-waving crowd. "This confirmation has shown the world that Turkey isn't any ordinary Middle Eastern country. The belief in democracy runs deep in Turkey's veins."
In a rebuke to the ruling party, voters returned Imamoglu to the office with 54.21% of the vote — 806,000 votes more than the AK Party candidate, Binali Yildirim.
In his speech — interrupted by chants of "Mayor Ekrem" and his campaign slogan "everything will be beautiful" — Imamoglu promised to end what he described as the "squandering" of the city's public funds by the governing party.
"The squandering will end, the belt-tightening will start. Istanbul's 16 million will share the city's blessings," he said.
Earlier, authorities at Istanbul's main court presented Imamoglu with a framed certificate confirming his mandate to rule over Turkey's largest city and commercial hub for the next five years. Istanbul's governor — the interim mayor — later handed over the municipality's official seal to Imamoglu in a televised ceremony.
Want more news?