Following devastating earthquakes in Türkiye, which claimed over 45,000 lives, Osman Nuri Kabaktepe, the Istanbul provincial chairperson of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), criticized the main opposition party and its leader for attempting to gain political advantages from the tragedy.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Sabah in Istanbul on Wednesday, Kabaktepe stressed the need for unity as a nation to overcome the catastrophic quakes, called the “disaster of century,” and called for an end to political point-scoring and finger-pointing. He accused the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its chairperson, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, of exploiting the disaster for political gain, describing their actions as “unethical and unacceptable.”
Kılıçdaroğlu has been accused of failing to contribute to the government’s relief and recovery efforts in the earthquake zones and of stepping up his political campaign ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in May.
The polls, scheduled for May 14, have been impliedly confirmed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is expected to be announced as the nominee of the People’s Alliance – a political bloc formed by the AK Party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Great Union Party (BBP) – for the elections.
Erdoğan’s announcement during last Wednesday’s AK Party group meeting has put an end to the discussion about potentially postponing the elections in the wake of the disaster.
Kabaktepe argued that while it is understandable for a political leader, who is willing to run for the Presidency, to seek an advantage over their rival, exploiting a national tragedy for political gain is unacceptable.
The Istanbul provincial chairperson expressed the belief that the opposition should have joined the government-led recovery and reconstruction efforts to aid the affected regions, but instead, they are focused on their political ambitions.
The earthquake, which hit several major cities in southern Türkiye, has left hundreds of thousands of families homeless, with many evacuated from the disaster-stricken provinces. Hundreds of survivors have already moved to other areas such as central Anatolia and the Black Sea region.
The government has initiated recovery and rebuilding efforts in the 11 affected cities that fell victim to the magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes.
The presidential polls are expected to be closely contested, with the ruling party and the main opposition parties vying for power. However, earthquake preparedness is expected to be a key issue in the upcoming election, with the electorate likely to consider each party’s stance on earthquakes, which could influence their voting behavior. It has forced all parties to reevaluate their priorities and put the needs of the people first.