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Erdogan Targets Enemies after Poll Triumph

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his son Bilal and daughter Sumeyye, greets his supporters in Ankara

Ankara – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan looked a step closer to a presidential bid and to gaining the upper hand in a bitter power struggle on Monday, casting strong local election results as a mandate to hunt down enemies within the state “in their lair.”

His AK Party swept the electoral map in Sunday’s polls, retaining control of the two biggest cities Istanbul and Ankara and increasing its share of the national vote as his pugnacious leadership style, beloved by a loyal, conservative voter base, trumped a stream of corruption allegations and security leaks.

From a balcony at AKP headquarters at the end of a long and bitter election that became a referendum on his rule, Erdogan told thousands of cheering supporters that his enemies in politics and the state, whom he has labeled “traitors,” “terrorists” and “an alliance of evil”, would pay the price.

“We will enter their lair,” he said, before a huge firework display lit up Ankara’s midnight sky. “They will be brought to account. How can you threaten national security?” The harsh tone of his balcony address suggested he felt he now had a mandate for strong action against his enemies. “From tomorrow, there may be some who flee,” he said.

The election campaign has been dominated by a power struggle between Erdogan and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of using a network of followers in the police and judiciary to fabricate graft smears in an effort to topple him. Erdogan, who has long drawn support from the same Muslim professional class that reveres Gulen, has purged thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors since anti-graft raids in December targeted businessmen close to the premier as well as the sons of some government ministers.

Investors, who have been unnerved by the turbulence, took solace in the election result, seeing it as a sign of political continuity. The lira rallied to its strongest in two months and stocks hit a 3-month high. (Reuters)

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