Istanbul’s ousted mayor says billions wasted under Erdogan’s AKP

Istanbul's ousted mayor says billions wasted under Erdogan's AKP

President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party spent 80 million lira ($13 million) in three years on an Istanbul city website, the ousted opposition mayor said on Wednesday, part of what he said was a wider misspending of billions of lira of public money.

Ekrem Imamoglu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), served less than three weeks as mayor after his narrow victory over the AKP in March was annulled two weeks ago following appeals by Erdogan’s party.

The decision to re-run the vote on June 23 has brought international criticism and accusations from Turkey’s opposition of eroding democracy. It has also unnerved financial markets and thrown a spotlight on the AKP’s management of Turkey’s largest city and commercial hub during its long years in power.

Preparing for the second vote, Imamoglu has sought to highlight alleged extravagance and waste under the AKP which, together with its Islamist predecessor parties, has ruled Istanbul with a budget of nearly $4 billion annually for a quarter century.

“80 million lira was spent on Istanbul municipality’s website in three years,” Imamoglu told a news conference, setting the tone for his new campaign for election in the re-run. “We could set up websites for all of Turkey’s municipalities with this money.”

An AK Party election official could not immediately be contacted for comment and the party’s spokesman did not address Imamoglu’s claims in a news conference later on Wednesday.