Turkey slams West for double standard on Istanbul polls

             By Can Erozden</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Turkey slammed the West on Tuesday over its double standards in response to a do-over decision on Istanbul mayoral election.</p>  <p>Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who addressed at a joint news conference alongside his Kyrgyz counterpart Chingiz Aidarbekov, said there were some do-over elections in the world history, exampling the 2016 Austrian presidential election.</p>  <p>&quot;In 2016, the presidential election in Austria was cancelled and held again. Why was it cancelled? Once you look at its reason, it was quite similar to Istanbul polls [issues] as unauthorized persons counted the votes in ballot boxes,&quot; Cavusoglu said in  Ankara.

"Turkish law obviously says that people assigned at the balloting committee should be civil servants," said Cavusoglu, adding that unauthorized people were charged at ballot boxes and counted the Istanbul ballots in the March 31 local polls.

On Monday, Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) announced that a do-over election in Istanbul will be held on June 23.

His remarks came after an international outcry against the the top electoral body's decision as the EU criticized Turkey over the do-over of mayoral election.

"When the elections were held in Austria again with the same purposes, they would be democratic and transparent. Everyone respects the Austrian ruling about its do-over elections. But when the YSK in Turkey, a high judicial body, took a decision on the same grounds, it would be called unlawful and anti-democratic(?)," he said.

Turkey doesn't give credit to this kind of “double standards and impositions”, Cavusoglu added.

In addition, Cavusoglu said that Turkey cares about EU officials' remarks about Istanbul polls as they wish "free, fair and transparent election process".

He added that Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party wants the same, and that is why it appealed against the the March 31 election results.

"Ensuring a free, fair and transparent election process is essential to any democracy and is at the heart of the European Union's relations with Turkey," EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The Turkish Supreme Election Council decided to re-run elections in Istanbul following extraordinary appeals which contested the initially certified outcome of these elections. The justification for this far-reaching decision, taken in a highly politicized context, should be made available for public scrutiny without delay," the joint statement read, adding that Istanbul election boards can do their works in independent, open and transparent ways.

The YSK accepted the AK Party's objection to the local election results in Istanbul with seven votes in favor and four against.

The mayoral certificate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party's (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu was also cancelled by the YSK.

Imamoglu took oath as mayor of Istanbul last month, amid AK Party's agitation over voting irregularities.

The YSK said the decision was based on the fact that some ballot committee members presiding over ballot boxes in the province during at the elections were not civil servants as required by law.

INFOGRAPHICS – Do-over Istanbul elections in 10 questions

                By Aylin Dal </p>    <p>ANKARA (AA)- Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) on Monday announced that a do-over election in Istanbul will be held on June 23. </p>  <p>According to the council, the decision was taken as some ballot committee members who served during the elections were not civil servants as required by law.</p>    <p>The mayoral certificate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party's (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu was also cancelled by the YSK. </p>    <p>Anadolu Agency gather 10 most asked questions about the upcoming revote in Istanbul. </p>    <p><br>

1- How many ballots will be given to each electorate?

People will get one ballot for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality election.

2- Which actions will be repeated in the new election?

This election is a repetition of March 31. Therefore, only voting for Istanbul mayor will be repeated.

3- Which political parties can participate in the elections?

Political parties that participated in the March 31, 2019 elections can take part in the do-over election.

4- Can political parties nominate new mayoral candidates?

No political party can change its candidate unless the current candidate dies or resigns. If that would be the case, political parties will be given a deadline for selecting new candidate.

5- Will the independent candidates participate this election?

Only those independent candidates who took part in March 31 elections will be able to participate in the do-over election. New applications for independent candidacy will not be accepted.

6- Will the polling staff be renewed?

The decision for election rerun was taken as some ballot committee members who served during the elections were not civil servants as required by law. Therefore, new polling staff will be appointed in accordance with the law.

7- Will voter lists be updated?

The updated and finalized voter lists used in March 31 will be used in these elections too. However, people who are ineligible to cast their vote in the elections will be removed from the lists. Also, people who will turn 18 by June 23 will be added to the lists.

8- How many voters will cast their vote in each ballot box?

The ballot box lists to be used in these rerun elections will be arranged to cover 400 voters for each ballot box.

9- Where will the election process be carried out?

The election calendar for this election will be prepared and implemented by the Istanbul District Election Council and not the Supreme Election Council.

10- Who will lead the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in this election period?

<p>According to the Municipal Law, if the certificate of mayor of the metropolitan municipality is canceled, the mayor has to be appointed by the minister of interior until the election is held. Ali Yerlikaya, the governor of Istanbul, was appointed as Acting Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. </p>    <p> </p>  <p>*Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic </p>  

Indonesia: Losing candidate to reject election results

  By Nicky Aulia Widadio</p> <p> JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) - Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto said late on Monday he will reject the results of elections held last month if the grievances of his party are not addressed.

He urged the election commission to correct the irregularities and errors in data entry before announcing results on May 22.

Based on early results, incumbent President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma'ruf Amin are leading by 13 million votes with 70% of the votes counted.

Quoting figures by his own party members, Subianto said he was leading with 58% of the votes.

"This time I will not accept a fraudulent outcome," Subianto told foreign reporters in Jakarta.

Subianto, a former military commander, had also rejected the 2014 election results.

As a middle ground, Subianto requested third parties and experts to audit the official vote count conducted by the election commission.

“We’re very pessimistic, but we’re giving the charge to our people … If they [General Election Commission] are serious, we have a lot of experts, we can get international experts,” he said.

“Whatever people do, it’s the decision of the people. I don’t dictate them to do this and that … I will not call people to the street, but I am convinced they will be on the street,” he added.

More than 192 million Indonesians went to the polls on April 17 to vote in the nation’s first simultaneous presidential and legislative elections.

Both presidential candidates first ran against each other in the 2014 election, when Subianto lost by six percentage points to Widodo.

Istanbul revote decision 'important step for democracy'

                  By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu, Faruk Zorlu and Diyar Guldogan</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called the country’s top election body's decision for a do-over election in Istanbul an &quot;important step in strengthening Turkey's democracy&quot;.</p>    <p>&quot;We see this decision of the Turkish Supreme Election Council (YSK), which will remove the shadow over Istanbul elections, an important step in strengthening Turkey's democracy,&quot; Erdogan said during his address to lawmakers of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party at parliament group meeting.</p>    <p>His remarks came a day after Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) announced that a do-over election in Istanbul will be held on June 23.</p>    <p>The council members accepted the AK Party's objection to the local election results in Istanbul with seven votes in favor and four against.

The YSK said that the decision was taken as some ballot committee members who served during the elections were not civil servants as required by law.

"We sincerely believe organized corruption, utter lawlessness and irregularity occurred in the Istanbul elections," he said.

UPDATE – North Macedonia ends voting in presidential runoff

UPDATES WITH REMARKS FROM TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY

By Admir Fazlagikj and Furkan Abdula

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AA) – North Macedonia on Sunday ended voting in a presidential runoff as of 7 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).

Voting in the presidential runoff began at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) to elect the country’s next president for the next five years.

Polls have been opened for a total of 1.8 million eligible voters.

According to the results of the first round held on April 21, the governing Social Democrats' (SDSM) candidate Stevo Pendarovski — won 42.8% of the votes — and opposition candidate Gordana Siljanovska Davkova — won 42.2% — vie for the post in the runoff.

Pendarovski is supported by the government and has the backing of 31 political parties, including the Union of Social Democrats of Macedonia (SDSM), the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI), AlternAtivA, the Turkish Movement Party (THP), and the Turkish Democratic Party (TDP).

Davkova, the only woman candidate, is seeking the presidency with the support of the main opposition union. She favors cancelling the country’s name change deal.

Sunday's election is the sixth presidential election in the country's modern history, but the first since it made a momentous name change.

Under the law, voter turnout in the runoff must be at least 40% for it to produce a winner.

Last June, the country agreed to change its name in line with a deal under which Greece dropped its objection to North Macedonia joining NATO and the EU.

Since Macedonia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, the nation has had four presidents.

Under the Constitution, a president can be elected for a maximum of two terms.

Turkish Foreign Ministry welcomed the second round of presidential elections held in North Macedonia on 5 May and the fact that it was completed successfully.

“Turkey attaches great importance to the political unity, stability and prosperity of North Macedonia,” a ministry statement said and added: “We believe that the result of the Presidential elections will consolidate peace and stability in the country.”

“Turkey will continue to work to further improve her relations with North Macedonia in every field, and to cooperate with regional countries to strengthen stability and prosperity in the Balkans,” it added.

North Macedonia ends voting in presidential runoff

By Admir Fazlagikj and Furkan Abdula

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AA) – North Macedonia on Sunday ended voting in a presidential runoff as of 7 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).

Voting in the presidential runoff began at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) to elect the country’s next president for the next five years.

Polls have been opened for a total of 1.8 million eligible voters.

According to the results of the first round held on April 21, the governing Social Democrats' (SDSM) candidate Stevo Pendarovski — won 42.8% of the votes — and opposition candidate Gordana Siljanovska Davkova — won 42.2% — vie for the post in the runoff.

Pendarovski is supported by the government and has the backing of 31 political parties, including the Union of Social Democrats of Macedonia (SDSM), the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI), AlternAtivA, the Turkish Movement Party (THP), and the Turkish Democratic Party (TDP).

Davkova, the only woman candidate, is seeking the presidency with the support of the main opposition union. She favors cancelling the country’s name change deal.

Sunday's election is the sixth presidential election in the country's modern history, but the first since it made a momentous name change.

Under the law, voter turnout in the runoff must be at least 40% for it to produce a winner.

Last June, the country agreed to change its name in line with a deal under which Greece dropped its objection to North Macedonia joining NATO and the EU.

Since Macedonia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, the nation has had four presidents.

Under the Constitution, a president can be elected for a maximum of two terms.

South Africa set for free, fair polls: Electoral body

             By Hassan Isilow</p>  <p>PRETORIA, South Africa (AA) - South Africa said Thursday it is has put in place measures to ensure free and fair elections to be held next week.</p>  <p> “With less than one week to our elections day, the Commission is pleased to report that everything is in place, ready for South Africa’s 6th national and provincial elections,” Deputy chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission Janet Love told reporters in the capital.</p>  <p>“On Monday morning, election materials will be transported from local warehouses to voting stations, ready for the first special votes to be cast from nine in the morning to 5 p.m. on the 6 and 7 of May” Love said.</p>  <p>She said a record 48 political parties will compete for seats in the national parliament and provincial assemblies.</p>  <p>The commission also announced that 26 million people registered to vote, representing 1.3 million more who registered in the 2014 polls.

She said 77,494 voters have been granted permission to cast special votes beginning May 6.

South Africa grants special votes to citizens who cannot vote on the election day due to sickness, old age or work commitments.

The county’s Police Minister Bheki Cele assured the nation at a separate briefing that authorities would ensure the security of voters and voting material amid threats of violence by certain groups.

He said police identified some violence hot spots and deployed officers to deal with any disruptions to the polls.

Although 48 political parties will be vying in this month’s elections, the contest will mainly be between the three major political parties: the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Some of the main issues highlighted in the election campaign include, job creation, expropriation of land without compensation from mainly white owners to be re-distributed among landless blanks. The improvement of education and the health sector were also widely highlighted in the campaigns.

Election Day is May 8.

Zelensky officially declared Ukraine's new president

By Ali Cura

KIEV, Ukraine (AA) – Volodymyr Zelensky has been formally named Ukraine's new president, the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Tuesday.

Zelensky has won 73.22% of the votes to Petro Poroshenko’s 24.45%, Tetiana Slipachuk, the commission's head, told a news conference.

Zelensky, an actor with no political experience who won in an April 22 runoff, is expected to be inaugurated by May 31.

Ex-US VP announces 2020 White House bid

             By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden officially entered the 2020 White House race Thursday, ending more than a year of speculation. </p>  <p>Biden is joining a crowded field of Democrats seeking the party's nomination to take on President Donald Trump in the next election cycle. </p>  <p>&quot;We are in a battle for the soul of this nation,&quot; Biden said in a pre-recorded video announcing his candidacy. &quot;I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time.&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation,&quot; he added. </p>  <p>Despite becoming the latest Democrat to throw his hat in the ring, Biden, 76, is widely considered the front-runner with most opinion polls showing him to be the most favored among his peers following long-running speculation he would enter the fray.</p>  <p>He is expected to hold his first public campaign event Monday in Pennsylvania. He will appear Friday on ABC's &quot;The View&quot; morning program in what the network is billing as his first post-announcement interview.</p>  <p>Trump quickly responded to Biden's announcement, welcoming &quot;sleepy Joe&quot; to the race in a Twitter post. </p>  <p>&quot;I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign,&quot; Trump wrote. &quot;It will be nasty - you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick &amp; demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!&quot;</p>  <p>Democrats are expected to have their first primary debate in June. That will kickstart a flurry of campaign activity ahead of the Democratic convention in summer 2020 where a nominee will officially be selected.

Democrat 2020 hopefuls say would return US to Iran deal

             By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - A growing number of Democrats say they would return the U.S. to compliance with the 2015 nuclear pact world powers struck with Iran as President Donald Trump continues efforts to scuttle the agreement.</p>  <p>Senator Elizabeth Warren, widely regarded as one of the top Democratic contenders for the White House, said she would return the U.S. to the 2015 agreement, which saw Iran accept unprecedented curbs on and inspections of its nuclear program in return for billion of dollars of sanctions relief.</p>  <p>While Iran has repeatedly and consistently been verified to be in compliance with the agreement, Trump has repeatedly called it unfair to the U.S., and one of the worst deals he had ever seen, before exiting in May 2018.</p>  <p>Trump called on the U.S.'s negotiating partners -- China, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia and the United Kingdom -- to follow the U.S. lead in leaving the agreement, but to date none have, arguing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains the best way to ensure Iran does not attain the bomb. </p>  <p>&quot;Our intelligence community told us again and again: The #IranDeal was working to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. If Iran continues to abide by the terms of the deal, you bet I will support returning to it,&quot; Warren wrote on Twitter in February. </p>  <p>In a display of the party's support for one of former President Barack Obama's signature foreign policy accomplishments, the Democratic National Committee adopted in February a resolution calling for the U.S. to re-enter the agreement. </p>  <p>The Trump administration announced Monday that it would end waivers for seven countries, and Taiwan, to import Iranian oil in the latest attempt to mount pressure on Tehran. The 2015 agreement lifted U.S., EU and UN sanctions on Iranian oil exports, allowing Tehran unhindered access to one of its main sources of national revenue. </p>  <p>As of May 2, no country will be able to buy Iranian oil without the risk of running afoul of U.S. sanctions -- the Trump administration's latest effort to force Iran to leave the agreement.</p>  <p>But should 2020 go the Democrats' way there is no shortage of candidates who have said they would rejoin the historic agreement. </p>  <p>In addition to Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, who mounted a fiery 2016 bid, has indicated that he would seek to have Washington return. </p>  <p>A Sanders aide told the Al-Monitor news website, &quot;as president, Sen. Sanders would rejoin the JCPOA and would also be prepared to talk to Iran on a range of other issues, which is what Trump should’ve done instead of simply walking away. Rejoining the JCPOA would mean meeting the United States’ commitments under the agreement, and that includes sanctions relief.&quot;</p>  <p>Sanders is one of five presidential candidates who confirmed to Al-Monitor their desire to return to the JCPOA, including Senator Kamala Harris; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam and lecturer Marianne Williamson.</p>  <p>A spokesman for Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana mayor whose campaign is ascendant, also told the Hill website he would follow suit, as did a spokesman for former congressman Beto O'Rourke. </p>  <p>Three senators who have yet to explicitly state if they would seek to rejoin the agreement --  Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar -- did vote in favor of the agreement when it came before Congress. </p>  <p>Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is expectedly to officially announce his candidacy as soon as Thursday, is highly likely to return the U.S. to compliance as has was a vital part of the U.S. administration that initially brokered and then implemented the agreement. He strongly criticized Trump's decision to leave the accord. </p>  <p>And Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, said on Twitter in March &quot;If Iran continues to comply with the terms of the agreement as determined by the intelligence community, I will re-enter the U.S. into the #JCPOA as President.&quot;</p>  <p>Democrats are expected to have their first primary debate in June. That will kickstart a flurry of campaign activity ahead of the Democratic convention next summer.