Voters in Adana celebrate as results come in for Turkey's local elections. March 31, 2019. (AA)

Turkey election authority says opposition leader Imamoglu leads Istanbul race

Istanbul – Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu is leading in the mayoral race in Istanbul, the country’s largest city and economic center, over the nominee of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, the head of Turkey’s election authority said on Monday.

Yet at the nationwide level, and with over 98 percent of the ballots counted in Turkey’s local elections by early Monday morning, the governing Justice and Development (AK) Party-led People’s Alliance leads the polls.

Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara on the results of Sunday’s local elections, High Election Board Chairman Sadi Guven said Imamoglu is leading with 4,159,650 votes over AK Party’s Binali Yildirim with 4,131,761.

“So far results coming from 31,102 ballot boxes have been defined in our system, count of 84 ballot box results have not been completed because of objections,” Guven added.

In the meantime, President Recep Tayyib Erdogan addressed his supporters from Ankara after unofficial results came in from over 50 out of 81 provinces.

“The only reason why we lost some cities is that we could not express ourselves enough to some voters,” he said.

“If we have objections [with the electoral commission], we will raise them. Do not forget, every cloud has a silver lining. This is the struggle for democracy,” Erdogan said.

State-run Anadolu Agency has started posting election data at noon on Monday after hours of break. Anadolu’s data shows Imamoglu leads in the Istanbul mayoral race with 48.8 percent of the votes as Yildirim stands at 48.5 percent.

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