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Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu urges electoral board to confirm win in Istanbul mayor race

Supporters of the Republican People's Party, CHP, wave Turkish flags, and one with a portrait of Kemal Ataturk, right, as they celebrate after preliminary results of the local elections were announced in Ankara, Turkey, on Monday, April 1, 2019. Picture by Burhan Ozbilici, Associated Press

The opposition's candidate for mayor of Istanbul has urged Turkey's electoral body to confirm his narrow victory in local elections and has asked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to act to prevent the country from sliding into uncertainty.

Preliminary results show Mr Erdogan's ruling party lost its decades-old stronghold of Ankara in Sunday's vote and in the tight race for Istanbul.

Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu spoke on Wednesday, a day after Mr Erdogan's party appealed against the results in all of Istanbul's 39 districts, claiming the vote was "stained".

The supreme electoral board ruled in favour of a recount in eight of the districts.

Mr Imamoglu called on Mr Erdogan and his nationalist ally to stop a slip into "worrisome atmospheres" and to work with him to improve the economy and ensure a return to "normality".

Preliminary results showed Mr Imamoglu narrowly beating his ruling party rival, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, by some 25,000 votes.

Ali Ihsan Yavuz, a ruling party deputy chairman, called Sunday's election "one of the most stained in our democratic history".

That contrasted with statements from government officials who had insisted that the country's electoral system is fair.

At news conference at his campaign headquarters, Mr Imamoglu called on Mr Erdogan and his nationalist ally to "contribute to the process to prevent the results in Istanbul, which are being watched by whole world, from dragging (Turkey) into worrisome atmospheres".

"We are asking for justice," he said.

Recalling previous government statements on Turkey's elections being fair, he added: "What has happened that the elections are now all of a sudden the most stained in history?"

The ruling party quickly responded, reproaching Mr Imamoglu for allegedly not respecting the electoral appeals process.

"We have to accept the confirmed results," said Mr Yavuz.

Mr Imamoglu meanwhile, held up a photograph from 1994, when Mr Erdogan was elected mayor of Istanbul, showing the opposition candidate participating in a celebration of his win.

"This is how it should be done," he said.

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