The People's Alliance candidate for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in this weekend's redo election, Binali Yıldırım, said that the many people living in the province are the richness of Istanbul, adding that the city is a microcosm of Turkey with the diversity of its inhabitants.
"We have citizens from all backgrounds in Istanbul, including 2 million Kurds. There is no distinction between Turks and Kurds, and all people are equal for us," Yıldırım said at an event organized by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from the Kurdish-dominated southeastern Hakkari province.
Stressing that he is determined to transform Istanbul into a world brand, Yıldırım pledged to solve the city's notorious traffic problem, while mentioning his previous projects carried out while he was transportation minister.
"I will render urban traffic into a joy. I did it for Turkey before, so I can make it for Istanbul," he said.
Istanbul, Turkey's most populous city with more than 15 million inhabitants is notorious for its massive volume of traffic. It has also the largest number of motor vehicles compared to other cities in Turkey, at more than 4.1 million.
During his election period, Yıldırım promised that he will bring traffic to a bearable level. "The traffic will not stop, it will flow," he said.
Yıldırım, who played an important role in founding the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), first won a seat in Parliament as a deputy for Istanbul in the fall 2002 elections and served the country as the transport, maritime affairs and communications minister in the 58th, 59th, 60th, 61st, and 64th governments. He became Turkey's last prime minister in May 2016.
The People's Alliance candidate insisted that his AK Party did not prefer a rerun, but the opposition People's Republic Party (CHP) did not accept its suggestions for a full recount of the vote.
"We used our right to appeal against the election results because there were irregularities; more than we predicted. But the CHP opposed our request and the provincial election board refused a full recount. No options were left for us but renewing elections," he said.
Yıldırım and İmamoğlu are vying for the seat of Istanbul mayor again after the Supreme Election Council (YSK) ordered a rerun of the March 31 Istanbul polls. The results of the vote were canceled after the ruling AK Party and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) appealed to the council, citing irregularities and violations of election law.