Ekrem İmamoğlu, the newly elected Istanbul mayor from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), was exposed pretending to refuse a special meal and instead wanting to eat with municipality workers after it was shown that it was a setup by his team.
In footage recently seen circulating on social media, İmamoğlu was shown refusing to eat from a special menu on his first day at the municipality, stating that he will eat from the same menu as municipality workers.
"I will eat moussaka with the workers," İmamoğlu said in the video, a meal made with vegetables fried in oil and cooked with minced meat and tomato sauce. He is shown declining a steak offered to him.
However, his humble image did not last for long after it was revealed that the video was actually nothing more than a professional setup.
Sabah daily discovered that the place, where the newly elected mayor had a conversation with a municipality official, is a tea house instead of the municipality's kitchen. Also, the purported municipality official who asked İmamoğlu about the menu was actually a former worker from the Beylikdüzü district, where İmamoğlu served as mayor before he won the metropolitan election.
Moreover, according to social media shares, İmamoğlu actually ate lunch in a luxury fish restaurant after refusing to have a steak. The restaurant owner shared a photo on his Instagram account showing İmamoğlu entering the restaurant, with a note saying the mayor decided to have his first meal in this place.
Also, it was revealed that the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has never had different menus for the mayor and workers.
Although the mandate for managing the metropolitan municipality was given to CHP's candidate Wednesday in accordance with the unofficial results, the legal process for local elections in Istanbul is still ongoing as parties are waiting for the final decision of the Supreme Election Council (YSK), which was convened on Thursday to discuss extraordinary objections in the commercial capital of Turkey.
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had submitted an extraordinary objection to the YSK on Tuesday for the cancellation and redo of the municipal election in Istanbul and demanded the YSK not give the mandate to any candidate until the entire appeal process was completed.
Decision to open municipality database draws criticism
İmamoğlu's recent decision to open municipality archives to external experts' investigations was also controversial due to security concerns.
He instructed the Department of Inspection Board to form a five-member team, including two inspectors and three exterior experts, to create electronic copies of all municipality archives.
However, it is unknown whether İmamoğlu's decision was made based on a complaint or a report.
"Our municipal inspectors, Emine Sema Ballı and Kaya Albayrak, as well as three experts to be instructed outside, were assigned to copy our [electronic] infrastructure and to do all kinds of investigations," read the written instructions sent by İmamoğlu to the inspection board. A high-level official warned of the possible negative consequences on security because of İmamoğlu's action, according to Habertürk daily.
"Instruction of copying a database, which is already audited by the Court of Accounts, by people that did not pass security clearance, threatens state security. It is clear that the copying all electronic databases by outside experts will serve personal, political and even commercial interests. Therefore, this document of authorization is completely illegal and constitutes malpractice crime," he said.