Turkey Opposition Says Deference to Erdogan Slowed Quake Rescue

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s accumulation of political power hampered rescue efforts after last week’s deadly earthquakes, an opposition leader said, adding to criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis.

“This monstrosity of a system has created an extremely cumbersome structure,” Iyi Party leader Meral Aksener said of the executive presidency adopted by referendum in 2018, which concentrated power in the hands of the president.

“There’s an appalling state of negligence triggered by fear. No one takes responsibility, no one takes the initiative,” she said during a visit to the quake-hit Adana province, adding that officials were afraid to act without consent from the presidency.

The comments mark a more critical turn in Aksener’s response to the disaster. She initially broke with main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, saying it was time for government opponents to “keep quiet and for the state to talk.” Their parties are two of the six who plan to field a joint candidate to challenge Erdogan’s 20-year rule in elections this year, pledging to strengthen parliament at the expense of the presidency.

Turkish Anger Turns to Erdogan Over Quake Delays, Weak Buildings

Erdogan has acknowledged delays in the initial response to the quake but says the government has mobilized all arms of the state to help survivors.

The earthquakes have killed more than 38,000 people so far in Turkey, according to the latest toll by state disaster-response body AFAD, and thousands more in neighboring Syria.

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