The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has had to abruptly cancel election campaign events after being taken ill on live television during an interview.
Cameras abruptly cut away from Erdoğan to one of his interviewers, Hasan Öztürk, who looked perturbed and began to rise from his chair before the broadcast cut entirely. In footage distributedby the president’s Justice and Development party (AKP), shot in the same location, Erdoğan explains that he contracted stomach flu following intense work on the campaign trail weeks before the pivotal election.
He later tweeted: “Today I will rest at home upon the advice of my doctors … with God’s permission, we will continue our campaign from tomorrow onwards.” The vice-president, Fuat Oktay, said he would attend campaign events across central Turkey in his place.
Turkey is holding parliamentary and presidential elections on 14 May, when Erdoğan faces a concerted challenge from a six-party opposition striving to unseat him after 20 years in power. Many polls give his main challenger, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, a slight lead, amid discontent with an ongoing economic crisis and the government’s response to deadly earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey, and 8,000 in Syria.
Erdoğan cancelled personal appearances at a number of high-profile campaign events due to his sudden illness, including attending the opening ceremony of part of a Russian-funded nuclear power plant in southern Turkey and a nearby rally. The nuclear plant is the latest flagship infrastructure project that Erdoğan and the AKP are hoping will sway voters at the upcoming election, despite concerns about the relationship between government-led construction projects and collapsed infrastructure following the earthquake.
The AKP deputy chair, Erkan Kandemir, saidErdoğan would attend the ceremony at the nuclear power plant via video link. “Our president will attend the Akkuyu nuclear power plant ceremony, which is planned to be held tomorrow, online. Our Mersin rally is planned to be held at a later date,” he said.
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