Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, given suffering since Tuesday evening, reappeared in public on Saturday displaying a combative air after three days of eclipse, a fortnight before the presidential election.
The head of state, still pale, showed up in a red pilot's suit at Istanbul's former Atatürk airport, where the Teknofest air show is held. Turkey presents this fair, which allows the Turkish military industry to exhibit its drones, as "the largest in the world".
Affected by an intestinal virus, according to those around him, Mr. Erdogan, 69, including 20 in power, had only spoken this week by videoconference, raising questions about his state of health as the May 14 election approached. .
Resuming on Saturday the willingly polemical tone he likes, the president immediately relaunched his attacks against his opponents, without explicitly mentioning his state of health. "With the scandalous statements they have made in recent days, they reveal their hatred and their grudges", he launched in front of the crowd, before posing in the middle of women and children who joined him on stage.
"But no matter what they try to do, they won't get anywhere," he continued, accusing opposition members of being "agents" of the West bent on undermining the Turkey.
Mr. Erdogan was accompanied by President Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Libya Abdel Hamid Dbeibah, two countries to which Turkey provides combat drones.
Determined to put an end to the rumors, he held a meeting in the afternoon in Izmir, on the west coast, congratulating himself on having "resumed (his) program" of the campaign. "We have two weeks left and we will work harder, we won't stop!" he shouted to a crowd of supporters.
He is also expected Sunday in Ankara, the capital, two weeks to the day of the first round of voting.
President Erdogan had been forced to adapt his agenda since Tuesday evening and to cancel all his planned trips, including that for the highly anticipated inauguration on Thursday of Turkey's first nuclear power plant, for which he had even expected the arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He finally spoke by videoconference, appearing pale and with drawn features sitting behind a desk.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced on Tuesday evening to interrupt a live television interview.
The head of state, pale in complexion, reappeared on the air a quarter of an hour later before cutting the interview short, explaining that he had caught a "stomach flu".
The episode fell badly for the Turkish president, who intends to line up two to three daily meetings in the home stretch before the double presidential and legislative 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. Mr. Erdogan, then Prime Minister, had publicly denied suffering from colon cancer, explaining that the operations were aimed at removing polyps.
At the same time, his main opponent, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, chained four meetings in two days.
At the head of an alliance of six opposition parties, Mr. Kiliçdaroglu is in good shape, according to most polls.
In addition, the pro-Kurdish left party HDP, Turkey's third political force, on Friday called on its supporters to vote in favor of Mr. Kiliçdaroglu, a support likely to favor his election.
29/04/2023 18:59:52 - Istanbul (AFP) © 2023 AFP