UK & World News

  • 31 March 2014, 9:44

Turkish PM Says Foes 'To Pay Price' After Poll

Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory in local elections which had become a referendum on his 12-year rule, and pledged enemies "will pay the price".

It follows a long and bitter campaign in which he branded critics "terrorists" and an "alliance of evil".

With nearly all the votes counted Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power since 2002, was leading the main opposition by 46% to 28%.

However, the vote for the capital Ankara promised to be much closer.

The strong showing for his ruling party at the polls comes despite Mr Erdogan being dogged by corruption allegations following a series of online leaks, and accusations of authoritarian control.

The Turkish authorities have come under fire for blocking access to the social networking site Twitter and YouTube.

Mr Erdogan has accused opponents of fabricating evidence in a bid to topple him, and social media of spreading misinformation.

Speaking at the party headquarters, Mr Erdogan said he would "enter the lair" of enemies.

He said: "They will pay for this. From tomorrow, there may be some who flee."

The election results could also pave the way for Mr Erdogan to run for the presidency in August.

The local elections were the first vote since anti-government protests last June, which were sparked by plans to bulldoze and redevelop an Istanbul park and grew into mass rallies against Mr Erdogan's rule.

Trouble flared again earlier this month after the death of a teenager who was hit in the head by a police tear gas canister during last year's demonstrations.

Under Mr Erdogan, Turkey had been held up as a model of a Muslim democracy, but the crackdown on protests has led to accusations of intolerance.