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‘Ballot bullets’ in Turkish elections

Turkish Government officials in Istanbul have confirmed the firing of shots at an office of one of the upcoming polls opposition bloc under the tag of Nation Alliance, the Good Party, leaving bullet holes in the building’s windows. The suspect turns out to be a night watchman at a construction site in the neighborhood. He is later apprehended and tells the police he accidentally hit the party’s office while he was chasing thieves who had entered the site. The timing of the incident is early in the day.  Investigations are said to be going on.

The question is: “How credible could the official narrative be? Doesn’t it have many holes to punch?  Hole One: Was the guard alone? The traditional watch procedure borrowed from the age-old Roman tradition includes: “Semper tres; Nunquam duo…” Meaning: “Always three; never two ….” And in the most pressing situation, the Romans’ principle allowed one.  Was this guardsman alone? If so, what was so pressing?  Were they two or three? Where is the other or the others in case of three? What weapon did he use? Light or heavy? How did he know that he had “accidentally” fired at the Good Party office?  Could he have been a sniper? If the bullets had gone astray, going by the official story version, how could they have, at the same time, also concentrated on the office windows target? How do stray bullets differentiate between doors, walls and windows?

Hole Two:  Hollow promise. Every time such an incident, irrespective of its magnitude, happens, promises of holding thorough investigations are made. But, in the Turkey circumstances, nothing fruitful happens. It’s all hollow promises. In this case, everything leading to the establishment of the case is left vague. Even the name of the guardsman we are not told. If Turkey did not bring to book those proven to be behind the so-called July 15, 2016 coup, the people they know by rank, office and residential addresses, how can the system bother to prosecute the guardsman who is claimed to have shot at the opposition party’s office building? And for that matter when the polls are at the door? There must be something better on the agenda for the incumbent president, ruling party, ally.

Hole Three: From the premise of Hole Two, one can ask: “Who are these ‘unwise thieves’ that they should enter a construction site with intent to commit a felony in the early hours of the day? When is theft best done from a construction site, in fact, from anywhere, if it is not under the cover of darkness? Since it was already early in the day, how fast were they to beat the speed of a bullet? Or were they part of the plot?”

Hole Four: The timing. When the incident happened, it was too early for anybody to be in the office. So, there was no possibility of leading to any deaths of party officials or passersby to be caught in ‘cross’ fire. It was a safe time for just scaring Good Party workers and officials from the building, at least on that day, even for some hours, for fear of their safety.  And could this have a bearing on a country nearing parliamentary and presidential polls? Hardly two months away?

Hole Five:  Could then a comment made by the Good Party leader Meral Aksener targeting Turkish President and presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan help send a message across? “I’m not scared, Mr. Recep”, she said, adding: “Attempts to scare members of political parties just one month-and-a-half to go to the elections is unacceptable… We are not scared, but this is a great injustice and insult to the electorate.” Several opposition leaders also condemned the shooting.

Hole Six:  The question of precedency. Before the incident, President Erdogan had time to issue a scathing warning to Aksener saying: “She is messing with the wrong people. Be careful, don’t get in trouble with me. The ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party also criticized her. After it, Erdogan kept quiet but AKP’s spokesperson castigated it adding that, however, “Aksener’s accusations at our president are irresponsible and provocative.” Couldn’t the shooting deliver more along the tone of Erdogan’s warning than chasing construction site thieves? Was the shooting proof of how Akneser can “get into trouble” with Erdogan? The president had said it. And it happened.

Hole Seven: Reading between the Erdogan regime messaging and subsequent action lines, what was so easy about the scheming of the controversial July 15, 2016 coup which, now the whole world knows, was something planned to fail that should be difficult about fabricating something around the Istanbul Good Party office shooting narrative? Likened to a luncheon or dinner, isn’t the Good Party incident the equivalent of a dessert, coffee or tea?

Erdogan and his ruling AKP Party have concocted their own concepts around critical issues like democracy, human rights, freedom of association, freedom of access to information, terrorism and terrorist organizations, coups and dragged the whole the world into taking their versions as the real. They have adopted and adapted the Hitler style of saying a lie ten times, after which everybody takes it for the truth.  For example, what is terrorist about the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen living in exile in the United States since 1999? This man, who does not even harbor an idea of heading a family, is accused of seeking political influence. For what? For whom? Why?

Erdogan has even has concocted a name Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) for the world to listen to and take for real. But what is most serious in the process, people are branded Gulenists, arrested, prosecuted, jailed, persecuted and subjected to being tracked all over the world, kidnapped and flown back to Turkey to face faked charges. Erdogan doesn’t mind breaking the territorial sovereignty of other countries and with impunity.

Come May 14, 2023, the people of Turkey will go to the polls to decide the fate of their country and theirs. They definitely know better where they stand. But ‘almighty’ Erdogan is the man who never gives up. Even one-and-half months to the day, offices of the opposition can still be attacked. He can still sway public opinion. If it is not by dialogue, by the bullet. The question is, to quote from the meaning of the message of Good Party leader Akneser: “Are the Turkish electorate ready to swallow the insult of Erdogan through the bullet taking the place of the ballot paper?”  Bullets have room in ballot boxes.

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Felix Kaiza is a Tanzanian journalist with more than 50 years of experience currently working as an independent media consultant. Learned in agriculture, journalism, political science and international relations, his main fields of consultancy, besides the media, are good governance, nature conservation, tourism and investment. He was the first Tanzanian Chief Sub-Editor of an English daily newspaper in 1970, he has been behind the establishment and growth of the national independent media since the early 1990s. He is UNFAO Fellow Journalist since 1975 and has wide experience on regional integration. He worked on the Information Directorate of the original East African Community on whose ashes survive the current one. His ambition is to brand Tanzania in the inbound market with made-in-Tanzania brands, including information, almost all of which is currently foreign brewed.

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