Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Wednesday that he would take a daily rest after cutting short a live TV interview Tuesday night after suffering from a stomach bug.
The president’s scheduled appearances for the day were canceled while he thanked everyone for extending their good wishes over his illness.
“I will take a rest upon our doctors’ advice. Vice President Fuat Oktay will attend my programs scheduled for today,” he said in a message.
Erdogan, who is facing the toughest election of his 20-year rule, was being interviewed on Turkish TV when the program was interrupted for about 20 minutes after he suddenly felt ill off-camera.
He later came back to the screen, explaining he had suffered from a “serious stomach cold” and had considered canceling the interview — which started one-and-a-half hours late — after doing “intense campaign work” on Monday and Tuesday.
“Naturally, we are facing such issues from time to time amid such a busy schedule,” Erdogan said.
Erdoğan’s live broadcast with the journalists tonight was abruptly cut off after muffled noises coming from the mics. It worried many people.
Erdogan is now back, says he had a stomach emergency and he was very tired.
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) April 25, 2023
“Praise God, our president is in good health,” Erdogan’s spokesperson İbrahim Kalın tweeted after the incident.
Erdogan faces a tough reelection battle
Erdogan, 69, has been in power since 2003 and is set for a tough reelection battle in the general election on May 14. He is the longest-serving leader in the country’s history.
There are three alliances running in the elections projected to pass the 7 % threshold: The People’s Alliance led by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Nation Alliance formed of six opposition parties and the Labour and Freedom Alliance.
The Nation Alliance made up of parties from across the political spectrum, has united behind Kemal Kilicdaroglu, an understated 74-year-old and former bureaucrat. Polls suggest it could be a tight race between Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu.
Known as “Gandhi Kemal” or “Turkey’s Gandhi” for his resemblance to Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi, the quietly spoken 74-year-old offers a radically different vision in both substance and style to the fiery, charismatic Erdogan, the BBC notes.
He promised his supporters that he would govern Turkey through consensus and consultation.
“Our table is the table of peace,” Reuters news agency has quoted him as saying. “Our only goal is to take the country to days of prosperity, peace and joy.”
He also said he would return the country to a parliamentary system. Erdogan oversaw a transition to a presidential system, gaining sweeping powers.
The Alliance has vowed to reverse many of Erdogan’s policies on the economy, civil rights and foreign affairs in what many see as the most consequential election in the republic’s 100-year history.