Turkey’s Erdogan Returns to Campaign Trail After Stomach Illness

Turkey’s Erdogan Returns to Campaign Trail After Stomach Illness

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(Bloomberg) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his first public appearance since a health scare that sidelined him just weeks ahead of the nation’s election. 

Erdogan on Saturday visited Teknofest in Istanbul, an aerospace and technology festival which targets mostly young people, and spoke for about 30 minutes. 

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Turkey’s leader made an animated attack on his political opponents for questioning energy and defense projects he announced recently as part of his re-election campaign. Erdogan also introduced two Turkish citizens chosen to be part of a mission to the International Space Station later this year. 

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Turkey’s president fell ill during a live broadcast on Tuesday in what he said was a bout of stomach flu. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the president suffered a gastroenteritis infection. He joined a few events via teleconference later in the week, including the inaugural loading of fuel at a nuclear power plant with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Erdogan also spoke by phone on Friday with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. 

The president’s in-person appearance could prove crucial for his campaign with just over two weeks left to May 14 election that may be the toughest test in his two-decade rule. 

Erdogan traditionally visits Turkey’s biggest cities in the final stages of his campaigns to shore up support and push a get-out-the-vote message to his followers. A prolonged illness might have prevented him from appearing at major rallies in the campaign’s final stretch, and potentially hurt his chances of re-election. 

He’s expected to speak at rallies in Izmir later on Saturday and Ankara on Sunday, respectively Turkey’s third and second most populous cities. 

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Polls suggest the contest remains tight as Erdogan, 69, seeks another term. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the 74-year-old head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, who represents a six-party alliance, is Erdogan’s main competitor. 

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