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1 Apr, 2014 13:21

Turkish police fire water cannon as thousands protest local election results (VIDEO)

Riot police have used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the thousands-strong crowd of protesters surrounding the Supreme Electoral Council in Ankara. The people demanded a recount of local election results, in which the ruling AKP party narrowly won.

Days after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) claimed victory in a very close race in the capital of Ankara, thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets to protest alleged fraud at the polls.

16:06 | ANKARA YSK önünde biber gazı atılıyor, TOMA su sıkıyor, 100 kadar çevik de geldi. Polise tepki yağıyor. pic.twitter.com/ABSFkI9kqX

— Direniş Haberleri ☪ (@Direnecek35) April 1, 2014

They've opened the road for now. That was crazy. They negotiated then just started the water cannon then teargas #Ankara

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) April 1, 2014

The crowd joined volunteers who earlier took to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to claim their ballots. The volunteer teams, who collected copies of ballot box recordings, have pointed to noteworthy differences between the figures provided in records of the ballot boxes and the figures recorded by the YSK, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

"Thieves!" “Ankara, claim your votes,” “Rightists and leftists are brothers, Melih Gokcek is a tyrant,” the protesters chanted in front of the election board building. Gokcek is an AKP candidate.

Protesters, which included leftist supporters of CHP’s party candidate for Ankara Mansur Yavas, formerly of Nationalist Movement Party, also shouted nationalist slogans.

Live footage from the scene then showed police, that has been dispatched to the YSK building, using water cannon to disperse the crowd. RT's reporter in Ankara Sara Firth also tweeted that tear gas was unleashed.

According to Firth, the Tuesday protest in Ankara had been “completely peaceful before police action.” Water cannon and tear gas were deployed after negotiations with the people, in which the protesters were asked to clear the streets to make room for traffic, but not leave the area altogether.

[VIDEO]: Angry voters challenging #localelection results in #Ankara chant 'thieves, burglars' #tutanakNOhttp://t.co/AoTEeNKcz3

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) April 1, 2014

The Election Board’s officials said that the protesters were creating unnecessary tension.

If there are mistakes, they will be corrected by the district election boards,” YSK Chair Sadi Güven told reporters on Tuesday, adding that there was no need for “uneasiness.”

The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which lost with a slight 0.91 percent difference in votes in Ankara and gathered a total of 43.76 percent, contested the official results and filed for a recount of several ballot boxes on Tuesday. The party is led by socialist democrat Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Polis, YSK önünde bekleyen halka saldırdı. Canlı yayın http://t.co/trmDZvddRXpic.twitter.com/ySMxQolLwS

— Pınar Ongun (@pnarongun) April 1, 2014

Thousands now outside #Turkey's Electoral Board, demanding a recount of #Ankara votes. Pic by @bektasumitpic.twitter.com/zvxqH6XqDC

— Humeyra Pamuk (@PamukHum) April 1, 2014

Following overall victory in local elections nationwide, Erdogan promised his supporters that his opponents will “pay the price” at a Sunday rally.

“There won’t be a state within a state. We will root them out,” Erdogan threatened.

The emotional rhetoric followed several pre-election scandals, including one of major graft, to which Erdogan’s government was allegedly linked, and an audio leak of the government’s alleged plan of intervention in Syria under false pretenses. The latter was used by Erdogan to advocate the ban of YouTube.

Internet giant, Google, claimed on Saturday that all its services, not just YouTube, are being effectively blocked in Turkey.

The March-30 municipal elections in Turkey created tension in several contested regions of the country, leaving eight people killed and dozens more injured in clashes between supporters of rivaling parties. According to the official results, mayoral candidates from AKP managed to secure victory in 49 cities and provinces, while opposition parties and one independent candidate gained 32 posts in total.

While AKP won in most of Turkey’s central regions by a landslide, it faced a strong CHP contest in the key cities of Istanbul and Ankara, lost to nationalist MHP party in eight regions across the country and the Kurdish BDP party in ten eastern regions. AKP has, however, appealed the result of at least one local vote in the southern metropolis of Adana, where the MHP candidate outdid his AKP rival by slightly more than 15,000 votes.

15:48 | Ankara YSK önüne 2 adet TOMA ve çevik kuvvet geldi. pic.twitter.com/F64YjqdAfn

— Direniş Haberleri ☪ (@Direnecek35) April 1, 2014