Turkish opposition picks presidential candidate to run against Erdogan

A six-party alliance has nominated Kemal Kilicdaroglu as its common candidate to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey’s presidential elections in May, ending months of uncertainty and bickering that had frustrated their supporters.

The country is headed toward pivotal presidential and general elections on May 14 that could shift the country toward a more democratic course or extend Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade.

The elections are Erdogan’s toughest during his 20-year rule and come amid economic turmoil and criticism of the government’s response to a devastating earthquake last month.

“Our biggest goal is to carry Turkey toward prosperous, peaceful and joyful days,” Kilicdaroglu said after he was nominated, as thousands of supporters cheered.

The process to decide on one unified candidate hasn't been easy. Meral Aksener, who leads the nationalist Iyi Party, broke away from the alliance on Friday, over Kilicdaroglu's candidacy. Her split from the alliance had been seen as a major boost for Erdogan.

Aksener, a former interior minister, whose party is the second largest in the opposition bloc, was reported to have favoured either of the popular mayors of Istanbul or Ankara instead of Kilicdaroglu.

Officials said she returned to the alliance after a compromise was reached where Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas would be nominated as vice presidents.

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