Tayyip Erdogan’s challenger in Turkey’s presidential race has sharpened his tone on migrants on Thursday, vowing to send all migrants back to their countries once elected in a May 28 runoff vote.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of a six-party opposition alliance, won 45% support in Sunday’s vote while Erdogan got 49.5%, falling just short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff vote.
Kilicdaroglu’s latest comments came amid expectations that a third candidate in the presidential race would announce his decision for the runoff.
Sinan Ogan, a nationalist politician endorsed by an anti-refugee party obtained 5.2%, which made him a kingmaker in the runoff vote.
Addressing his party members at his Republican People’s Party (CHP) headquarters, Kilicdaroglu maintained his defiant tone against Erdogan’s policies on migration.
“Erdogan, you have deliberately allowed 10 million refugees to Turkey. You even put Turkish citizenship on sale to get imported votes,” Kilicdaroglu said, without providing evidence.
Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population of around 4 million, according to official figures.
“I am announcing here: I will send all refugees back home once I am elected as president, period,” he added.
In his election campaign, Kilicdaroglu had said they had plans to send Syrians in Turkey back home within two years after making a deal with Syrian President Bashar al Assad for their safety and coordinating with the U.N.