Duvar EnglishIstanbul, Ankara municipalities file lawsuit against gov't for blocking their donation campaigns
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed municipalities run by the main opposition for launching donation campaigns to collect money to be used in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"There is no point in being a state within the state," Erdoğan said on April 1, adding that all donation campaigns are carried out by the units announced by the state only.
"The municipalities can't attempt to be a state within the state and they can't launch campaigns without permission," he added.
A notice with Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s signature was sent to municipalities across Turkey on March 31, which said that the donation campaigns of the municipalities are against regulations.
The ministry said Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoglu's campaign contravened a law requiring that permission be sought from authorities before collecting money for the needy and said it would act against those responsible.
Shortly after the notice, bank accounts used by Istanbul and Ankara municipalities were blocked.Erdoğan launches donation campaign to assist citizens in need amid virus outbreak
İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş, both from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), slammed the move. Istanbul Municipality announced that it filed a lawsuit.
Erdoğan on April 1 said that "as the government we had to make the necessary warning."
"When are we going to be together if not today?" he also said.
İmamoglu, seen as a possible future candidate for the presidency, launched the campaign this week with the slogan "We will succeed together," seeking cash and other donations from wealthier Turks for hundreds of thousands of those in need.
Erdoğan then launched a rival "National Solidarity" campaign and promised seven months of his salary to the cause. Various state institutions, firms and politicians made contributions.
Eleven CHP metropolitan municipalities, meanwhile, released a statement on April 1, saying that it's legal for the municipalities to accept donations.
"The fact that the Interior Ministry prevented receiving donations on grounds that are impossible to understand won't do any good, but will only increase the suffering of our citizens," the statement read.
Calls for curfew in Istanbul
Another source of disagreement between the government and İmamoğlu concerns the imposition of a curfew in Istanbul.
İmamoglu wants a lockdown in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city with 18 million people, to slow the spread of coronavirus, while Erdoğan - who has adopted some other containment measures - is resisting such a move to cushion the economic pain.
Turkey's confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to 13,531 on March 31, making it the 10th worst affected country in the world, with 214 deaths.Istanbul Mayor urges gov't to impose city-wide curfew to curb coronavirus spread
Ankara has halted all international flights, limited domestic travel, closed schools, bars and cafes and suspended mass prayers and sports fixtures to counter the outbreak. But people are still going to work as Erdoğan seeks to sustain economic production and exports.
İmamoglu said he has not discussed the pandemic with Erdogan since the first case was reported in Turkey on March 11, though he said "we would like to" share information.