Erdogan Says Istanbul Vote Involved ‘Organized Irregularities’

(Bloomberg) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there were “organized irregularities” during the Istanbul elections that his ruling party narrowly lost on March 31.

“Hundreds of employees from banks like Isbank, Sekerbank, Garanti were on duty” as election officials, Erdogan said on Saturday during a speech in Ankara. “This is unprecedented and unacceptable."

Isbank released a statement on Twitter on Friday saying that any employees who took part as election officials did so at the request of authorities and not under directions from the bank’s management.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition CHP party defeated the AK Party’s Binali Yildirim, a former prime minister, with a slim margin of about 14,000 votes, according to election board results. The ruling party claimed widespread irregularities tainted the vote and caused it to lose control over the country’s biggest city, which has been held by the AK Party and its predecessors since 1994.

Turkish authorities are expected to rule in coming days on the claims of irregularities. Erdogan said the AKP will continue its legal battle until the end, stressing that the party is still hopeful.

Party Rebellion

Erdogan also criticized rebels within his party -- led by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu -- without giving any names. “Unfortunately, I must say that while we are fighting at the outside, there are some of our members who go wrong with us. Their works are unacceptable,” he said.

Davutoglu said the party must face the reality of decreasing public support and economic stress due to “arrogant” policies, according to a statement on Monday, avoiding any personal criticism of Erdogan.

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