Istanbul Mayor and Potential Erdogan Challenger Faces Prison

Turkish prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence for Istanbul’s popular opposition mayor -- a potential future challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- for allegedly insulting the country’s election watchdog.

In an indictment, they accused Ekrem Imamoglu of insulting members of the Supreme Election Council, which didn’t recognize his initial victory in 2019 local elections and ordered a repeat vote for the mayoralty of the country’s largest city, opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said Friday.

Istanbul Mayor and Potential Erdogan Challenger Faces Prison

When Imamoglu won the second vote, he ended more than a quarter-century of control over the city of 16 million by Erdogan’s party and its predecessors.

The lira fell past 8.60 per U.S. dollar on news of the indictment, extending what was already a record low fueled by concern that Turkish monetary policy was too loose to curb inflation.

The move comes as Imamoglu’s popularity surges past that of Erdogan -- himself a former Istanbul mayor -- ahead of presidential elections scheduled for 2023, according to pollsters.

A court is now expected to decide whether to hear the case. Imamoglu faces up to four years and one month in prison if tried and convicted.

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