Mayor of Turkish capital resigns under pressure from Erdogan

Istanbul – The outspoken mayor of the Turkish capital, Ankara, was resigning on Saturday, amid growing pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on local officials ahead of elections in 2019.

Melih Gokcek, mayor since 1994 of the country's second-largest city, announced this week that he would step down, becoming the fifth mayor from the ruling Islamic-conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) to succumb to pressure from the top.
The mayor of Istanbul - which at 15 million residents is the country's largest city and about triple the size of the capital - also resigned recently.
The central government has also taken control over dozens of Kurdish municipalities in the south-east, accusing the mayors of being linked to terrorism, and appointed trustees. A third of the country's population lives in areas without elected mayors.
Erdogan, at the helm of the party since 2002, has warned of "fatigue" within the AKP and vowed to revive enthusiasm at the grass-roots level. 
Gokcek, 69, is known both for his populism and shock claims, such as saying that artificial earthquakes were caused by Turkey's enemies abroad to harm the economy.
He has also described the internet search engine Google as the largest intelligence agency in the world and said US cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the government blames for last year's coup attempt, controls his followers with genies.
A prolific Twitter user, Gokcek tweeted a message in all capital letters to announce his resignation after lengthy sessions with Erdogan.

Saturday, October 28th 2017

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