President Erdogan health forces him to cancel rallies

Turkish President and Leader of the Justice and Development (AK) Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addresses the crowd at Ankara Sports Hall during the unveiling of the AK Party’s Election Manifesto in Ankara, Turkey on April 11, 2023. — AFP

After an abrupt departure from his live TV interview late Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cancelled his plans for participating in election campaign rallies due to health reasons, Reuters reported Thursday.

He was to appear in rallies on Wednesday and Thursday as he campaigns for the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections set to take place on May 14.

Erdogan, 69, wrote on his Twitter account: “Today, I will rest at home with the advice of my doctors.”

AK Party deputy chairperson Erkan Kandemir later said that President Erdogan would attend a ceremony at the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in the southern Mersin province via video link on Thursday.

On Twitter, he said: “Our Mersin rally is also planned to be held on a future date.”

On Tuesday, Erdogan, who has been the president of Turkey since 2014, departed from his live TV interview saying “he felt sick with an upset stomach”.

The long-standing Turkish leader had given three campaign speeches earlier that day.

The president was to conclude his day with an interview with Ulke TV and Kanal 7. However, 10 minutes into the interview, the broadcast abruptly cut off mid-question, causing the camera to shake and the reporter to stand up from his chair. An off-camera voice could be heard saying, “Oh wow.”

About 15 minutes later, Erdogan returned to the interview to apologise for his sudden departure, saying, “Yesterday and today were hard work. That’s why I got a stomach flu.”

The president appeared tired and his eyes seemed to water as he spoke. After answering a few more questions, he ended the broadcast.

The approaching elections appear to be the toughest challenge for the incumbent president to continue his rule amid inflation and the earthquake disaster, which affected its support base throughout the country.

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