Turkey elections moved up to June: Erdogan

Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday announced that general and presidential elections were being moved up to June 24, almost a year and a half earlier than scheduled.

Erdogan said the electoral commission was to immediately begin preparations for the June elections.

“In a period when developments in Syria accelerated and we have to take very important decisions, from macroeconomic equilibrium to large investments, (the) election issue should be removed from the agenda as soon as possible,” Erdogan explained during a press conference at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Although the country’s political opposition had long warned that Erdogan was looking to hold early elections, the government had denied any plan to do so, promising that elections would go ahead next year, Efe reported.

Also on Wednesday, the Turkish Parliament extended the state of emergency for a seventh three-month period, having been in effect since the failed July 15, 2016 coup d’├ętat against Erdogan.

The Turkish President, 64, has been in power since 2003, first as Prime Minister and then as President from 2014 after constitutionally changing the role and importance of the office.

For much of Erdogan’s 15-year rule, his Justice and Development Party (AKP) has had an absolute majority in the Turkish Parliament.