Turkey plans tight security for March 31 local polls

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Turkey will take extra safety measures for the March 31 local elections, with over a half-million security personnel on duty on Election Day.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told an election safety summit on Jan. 20 that 553,000 security staff – including the coast guard – will be on duty to ensure safety.

Soylu said that Turkey had assigned 6,680 additional security personnel in 11 provinces and 12 districts to “guard against any threats by the PKK to people’s right to vote.”

Helicopters and drones will help security forces as part of security measures, he added.

“It is the Interior Ministry’s responsibility to make sure every citizen can vote freely. As part of this, we see election safety falling into three categories: election rallies, voting, and ballot counting,” Soylu said.

He said during the campaign season, Turkey will take additional measures against threats by terrorist groups.

 

New regions, new threats

Soylu told how last year the outlawed PKK spread its efforts to rural areas of Turkey’s Black Sea region.

The PKK is trying to forge a new Black Sea route for human trafficking and drug smuggling, he said.

“We took measures against both of these and blocked the PKK from spreading to the Black Sea region both by land and sea. But we know that they have plans for this region, so we shouldn’t neglect it,” Soylu said.

“So especially during the campaign season, we should be on the alert for possible PKK activity,” Soylu added.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union.

Local elections are set to be held across Turkey on March 31, 2019.

Campaigning will end on the evening of March 30, a day before the election.

The local polls follow Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections of June 2018.

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