More than a dozen people were arrested over the violence against an opposition election rally in Turkey’s eastern city of Erzurum over the weekend, the country’s justice minister said on Monday. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, was speaking atop a campaign bus on Sunday afternoon when a large group of around 200 protesters started throwing rocks. Imamoglu was campaigning on behalf of CHP leader and presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main opponent, just days before the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections. He claimed that police and pro-Erdogan officials in Erzurum allowed the attack to go ahead. “There are citizens here who are injured and you cops are just waiting,”
Imamoglu is heard saying in the footage of the incident. “Governor of Erzurum, Mayor of Erzurum, I will file a criminal complaint against you.” The video later shows Imamoglu being taken inside by his entourage and the bus driving away, with the police later dispersing the group with water cannons.
Seven people were injured in the crash, according to Erzurum governor Okay Memis. Speaking to local news channel A Haber on Monday morning, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announced that investigations were ongoing and 13 people had been arrested so far.
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Kilicdaroglu posted a video on social media following Sunday’s incident in which he accused the mob responsible of being a “militarist coalition” trying to “scare people away from the polls”.
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Speaking on a television program later in the evening, Home Secretary Suleyman Soylu said the incident was “theatre”. “They cause such incidents, then they say ‘they did this to us, they did that to us’… They had delivered a speech that was meant to agitate, provoke the crowd.” The contest is currently head-to-head. If Erdogan wins, it will be his third consecutive term as president. However, opinion polls give Kilicdaroglu a slight edge.