With less than three weeks before the Turkish presidential election, which the polls announce as highly contested, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president, is forced to cancel his public engagements due to an intestinal virus. It's a real blow for anyone who is campaigning vigorously for re-election. "I am going to rest at home today on the advice of doctors," the 69-year-old head of state announced. “Unfortunately, we will not be able to reunite with our brothers from Kirikkale, Yozgat and Sivas today. I apologize to all,” the president tweeted, listing localities in Central Anatolia where he was scheduled to speak.
According to the vice-president of the ruling AKP party, Erkan Kandermi, the Turkish president is again canceling his commitments scheduled for Thursday, for the second day in a row. The head of state was to attend the inauguration of the country's first nuclear power plant, built by the Russian Rosatom, on the southern coast of Turkey, according to the AKP representative.
His main rival, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, 74, candidate of the National Alliance which brings together six opposition parties, immediately wished a "good recovery" to the head of state. Just like several other leaders of the Alliance, including Meral Aksener, president of the Good Party, the second largest formation of the opposition coalition, who sent their wishes of recovery to the Turkish president.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan sometimes slows down. Yet he lines up two to three daily meetings for his campaign. And during Ramadan, he shared an iftar – the meal for breaking the fast – each evening in a different locality.
Despite his bout of fatigue, he planned to maintain a high fixture tempo across the country in the home stretch ahead of the May 14 double ballot.
The health of the Turkish leader had already fueled speculation after a large intestine operation at the end of 2011, followed by further surgery the following year. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Prime Minister, had publicly denied suffering from colon cancer, explaining that the operations were aimed at removing polyps.