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Erdogan seeks Turkish voters' support in fierce power struggle

Published on Mar 30, 2014 9:57 AM
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to the crowd during a rally of the Justice and Development Party in the Kartal district at the asia side of Istanbul on March 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL/ANKARA (REUTERS) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan turns to the ballot box that has favoured him over a decade on Sunday in his battle to ward off graft allegations and stem a stream of damaging security leaks he blames on "traitors"embedded in the Turkish state.

The municipal elections have become a crisis referendum on the rule of Mr Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party and he has been crisscrossing the nation of 77 million during weeks of hectic campaigning to rally his conservative core voters.

"They are all traitors," Mr Erdogan said of his opponents at a rally in Istanbul, Turkey's commercial capital, on Saturday."Let them do what they want. Go to the ballot box tomorrow and teach all of them a lesson ... Let's give them an Ottoman slap."

Mr Erdogan has purged some 7,000 people from the judiciary and police since anti-graft raids in December targeting businessmen close to Erdogan and sons of ministers. Erdogan blames the probe on a secretive Islamic cleric, a former ally, who he says is using supporters in the police to try to topple the government.

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