ISTANBUL, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's ruling party mayoral candidate for Istanbul said on Monday that his party had identified cases in which its votes were stolen, as the recount of ballots is continuing two weeks after the local elections.
"It is clear that our votes were stolen and registered to the opponent's segment," Binali Yildirim, the candidate for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a former prime minister, said at a press conference in Istanbul.
The winner of the March 31 race in Istanbul has not been officially declared as the AKP is objecting to the results. All the so-called invalid votes have been counted in all the districts so far, while full recounts were also carried out in some locations.
The recount of the ballots in the Maltepe district was stopped again following repeated appeals from the AKP and its nationalist ally.
The Supreme Election Council (YSK) rejected their request and ruled for the resumption of the recount, which is expected to end on Tuesday.
The current gap between Yildirim and Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), is 13,907 votes in favor of the latter, down from the initial 25,000 votes, as over 99.3 percent of the recounts were completed, according to the CHP.
"We must patiently wait until the YSK declares the mayor of Istanbul," Yildirim said, adding his party's latest data indicated that the margin has fallen to nearly 12,000.
Speaking at a televised press conference, Imamoglu accused the ruling party of not presenting concrete evidence about the so-called irregularities in the elections.
He urged the government to focus on the economic problems facing the country, such as rising unemployment and the depreciation of the Turkish currency against the U.S. dollar.
"During the two months of period, the Turkish lira has lost three percent of its value against the dollar," Imamoglu said, stating that the country has no time to lose with such "baseless accusations."
The ruling party, meanwhile, is planning to challenge the overall results in Istanbul and ask the YSK to re-run the election in the largest city of Turkey.
"We have completed our preparations to a large extent. We will submit our petition and supplements to the YSK soon," Ali Ihsan Yavuz, AKP's deputy chairman, tweeted the previous day.