TİP’s Hatay mayoral candidate Gökhan Zan ‘bribed, threatened’ to withdraw

Gökhan Zan, TİP’s mayoral candidate for the quake-torn Hatay province and former footballer, has revealed that he has received bribe offers and threats to withdraw his candidacy. TİP has declared Zan as its candidate in protest after the main opposition CHP did not listen to complaints and proceeded to nominate unpopular mayor Lütfü Savaş. 

Duvar English

Gökhan Zan, former national footballer and Workers’ Party of Turkey’s (TİP) mayoral candidate for the quake-torn Hatay province, revealed on Feb. 21 that he received bribe offers and threats to rescind his candidacy from the controversial Hatay mayor post, in an interview with online news outlet Medyascope.  

Zan said he waited until the very last minute to hear from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to change its decision to renominate the unpopular mayor Lütfü Savaş. Parties had until 5 p.m. on Feb. 20 to notify the Supreme Election Council (YSK) about their candidates. 

“I waited for CHP until 4.55 p.m. I did not hand in my documents, I held out hope,” confessed the mayoral candidate. Zan had agreed to become TİP’s candidate for Hatay in protest of Savaş’s nomination. The current mayor was widely unpopular in Hatay because of his alleged ties to irregular zoning plans and insufficient action after the earthquakes.

During his Feb. 12 nomination speech, Zan signaled that TİP had room for adjustments should CHP change its mind about Savaş. “If you back out of this mistake, I am ready to make every sacrifice necessary to tend to Hatay’s wounds,” he said. 

“They gave me blank checks to withdraw,” revealed Zan in the interview. He would not reveal who offered him bribes. He was also threatened twice by intermediary “mafia types.”

Zan stated he did not “bow down” to any such requests. “I assured the Hatay people that I would not leave them without options,” he said. 

Zan pointed to CHP as the source of the threats and bribes. “You ask me to withdraw, you come to me with indecent offers, you bring in mediators, you threaten me into submission. I am with my people until the end,” the candidate said.  

CHP had said it would reconsider Savaş after the mayor and party leader Özgür Özel received backlash during the first-anniversary commemoration event of the Feb. 6 earthquakes. Zan was also at the commemoration, and he had reacted to government officials by shouting, “You left us dead in the first three days. We do not welcome you here.” 

CHP’s offers to various popular figures to take on the Hatay candidacy were rejected. After two weeks of deliberations, the party decided to continue with Savaş upon the “latest evaluations and requests of district organizations.” 

Savaş gave a statement criticizing Zan and the candidates proposed by the CHP after his nomination was finalized. “You cannot garner trust with money, fame, singing, or playing ball,” the candidate targeted Zan and singer and founder of AHBAP foundation Haluk Levent.  

Levent was another celebrated figure after the earthquakes, as his foundation acted quickly and efficiently to coordinate relief efforts in the affected area.

The local elections will take place on March 31.