Erdogan picks ex-minister Kurum as Istanbul Mayor candidate
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan named former environment minister Murat Kurum as the ruling AK Party's candidate for Istanbul's mayoral election in March, aiming to reclaim control over Turkey's largest city.
Kurum will challenge the current Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), who, with his 2019 victory, broke the AKP (Justice and Development Party) and its Islamist predecessors' 25-year hold over Istanbul.
Erdogan's re-election as president last May, along with a parliamentary majority secured by his AKP and nationalist allies, underscores the opposition's uphill battle in the upcoming nationwide municipal elections on March 31.
"At a ceremony to announce Kurum and other AKP candidates, Erdogan stated, "Together, we will end Istanbul's last five years of interregnum."
47-year-old Kurum served as the environment and urbanization minister from July 2018 until June of last year, stepping down post-elections to become a member of parliament representing Istanbul, Turkey's economic powerhouse and home to 16 million people, nearly 20% of the country's population.
Kurum played a key role in the government's response to the catastrophic earthquakes in southern Turkey last February, which claimed over 50,000 lives.
A university-trained engineer, Kurum's career includes work in Turkey's mass housing administration before his ministerial tenure.
Erdogan unveiled his party's candidates for over two dozen Turkish municipalities on Sunday, with plans to announce more, including for the capital Ankara, later in the month.