Turkey’s presidential hopefuls hold final rallies

Turkey’s presidential hopefuls hold final rallies

PanARMENIAN.Net - Campaigning in Turkey's first direct presidential election is entering its final day ahead of the vote on Sunday, Aug 10.

Candidate and current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to hold his final rally in the central Anatolian city of Konya, BBC News reports.

The post of president, previously chosen by parliament and largely ceremonial, is being put to a popular vote for the first time. Erdogan has said he wants to enhance presidential powers.

At his penultimate rally in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Friday, Erdogan called on his supporters to "explode ballot boxes on Sunday and deal a democratic slap" to his political opponents.

His two rivals also reached out to voters on Friday.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu visited the town of Soma, which in May was the scene of Turkey's worst ever mining disaster. Erdogan's handling of the tragedy, in which 301 miners were killed, was widely criticized and he has steered clear of the area during his campaign.

Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas held the biggest rally of his campaign in Turkey's largest Kurdish city of Diyarbakir on Friday. Tens of thousands of people waving Kurdish flags turned out to hear him speak.

Ihsanoglu, 71, is the joint candidate of the two main opposition parties, the centre-left Republican People's Party (CHP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Demirtas, 41, is a member of the left-wing People's Democratic Party.

The winner must get more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate reaches this mark in the first round, a run-off will be held on Aug 24.

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