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May 20, 2023 10:12 am

Turkey: Erdogan’s Rival Pledges to Repatriate all Refugees

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avatar by i24 News

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing the congress of the ruling Islamist AKP Party in March 2021. Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas.

i24 NewsKemal Kilicdaroglu, Turkey’s opposition leader in the presidential race, sharpened his tone on the issue of migrants on Thursday, vowing to send them all back to their countries once elected in a May 28 runoff vote.

The candidate of a six-party opposition alliance won 45 percent in Sunday’s vote while his rival, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, got 49.5 percent – falling just short of the majority needed to avoid a second round of elections.

Kilicdaroglu’s latest comments came amid expectations that a third candidate in the presidential race would announce his decision for the runoff. Sinan Ogan, a nationalist politician endorsed by an anti-refugee party, obtained 5.2 percent, essentially making him a “kingmaker” in the runoff vote.

Addressing his party members at his Republican People’s Party headquarters, Kilicdaroglu maintained his defiant tone against Erdogan’s policies on migration.

“Erdogan, you have deliberately allowed 10 million refugees to Turkey. You even put Turkish citizenship on sale to get imported votes,” he said without providing evidence.

Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population of around four million, according to official figures.

“I am announcing here: I will send all refugees back home once I am elected as president, period,” Kilicdaroglu added.

In his election campaign, Kilicdaroglu said he planned to send Syrians in Turkey back home within two years, after he makes a deal with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for their safety and in coordination with the United Nations.

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