Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted Monday that snap elections would go ahead as planned on November 1 despite the twin suicide bombings that killed scores of people in Ankara on Saturday and rising insecurity across the country.
Omer Celic, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said that election rallies would be suspended until Friday as a reaction to the attack that left around 100 people dead and more than 500 hundred wounded.
Celic also said that some of the subsequent rallies will be held under the banner of “unity against terror”.
Some commentators suggested that the suicide attacks – the worst in the history of the Republic of Turkey – could prompt the government to postpone the polls but Davutoglu insisted they would go ahead.
«We will hold the elections under whatever circumstances,» Davutoglu told NTV television.
Saturday’s deadly bombing on a peace rally organised by leftist-wing groups, unions and Kurdish activists ratcheted up tensions in Turkey, where the government is waging simultaneous campaigns against Kurdish militants and Islamic State (IS) group jihadists.
Rallies in the wake of the bombings have been hugely critical of President Erdogan, with demonstrators chanting slogans like «Erdogan murderer» and accusing the government of failing to prevent the attacks.
In his first comments following the blasts, Davutoglu denied there had been any security failure and dismissed the idea that Turkey could be facing a civil war similar to that of neighbouring Syria.
Erdogan, in a written statement, has condemned the «heinous» attacks as an attempt to break the country’s unity, but otherwise remained uncharacteristically silent over the weekend.
The AKP is currently under pressure, with opinion polls showing that he is unlikely to secure a stronger majority in the November 1 poll.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has unexpectedly announced it would suspend all attacks – except in self defence – ahead of the polls.
However, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said it was considering cancelling all of its rallies ahead of the snap election over security fears.
Prime Minister Davutoglu also announced that the IS group was the prime suspect in the deadly bombings.
«Looking at how the incident took place, we are probing Daesh as our first priority,» Davutoglu said, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist Islamist group.
The bombings had several parallels with a suicide bombing on July 20 against pro-Kurdish peace activists in the town of Suruc on the Syrian border that was blamed on the IS group and killed 34.
Turkish press reports said that investigators believed the type of bombs used in Suruc and Ankara were similar. The same forensic experts who worked in the aftermath of Suruc have now been sent to the Turkish capital.
As investigators examine the theory that IS group jihadists were behind the blasts, the Hurriyet daily reported that the authorities are examining the theory that the missing elder brother of the Suruc suicide bomber, Abdurrahman Alagoz, could have carried out one of the suicide attacks.
Turkish authorities have since Sunday arrested over 40 suspected members of the IS group across the country, but it is unclear if the raids had any link with the Ankara attacks.
The Suruc bombing caused one of the most serious flare-ups in Turkey in recent times as the PKK accused the government of collaborating with the IS group and resumed attacks on the security forces after a truce of more than two years.
With international concern growing over Turkey’s stability, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to visit Sunday to discuss Turkey and Syria, a spokesman said.