Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has canceled his election campaign events for two days after he fell ill during a live TV interview on Tuesday evening. The broadcast was interrupted for about 20 minutes when Erdogan showed signs of discomfort and a concerned voice was heard in the background. He later returned to the screen and said he had “serious stomach flu” after two days of intense campaigning.
Erdogan, who is seeking to extend his 20-year rule in the upcoming elections on May 14, cleared his calendar on Wednesday and Thursday and said he would rest at home on the advice of doctors. He also missed the inauguration of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean coast, which he attended online along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday that Erdogan’s health was fine and that he had “infectious gastroenteritis”. He said the president would resume his scheduled daily programs as soon as possible.
The main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is running for a coalition of six political parties, was among those who wished Erdogan a speedy recovery. Kilicdaroglu is posing a serious challenge to Erdogan, as the latest polls suggest a close race for the presidency, with a possible run-off two weeks later.
Erdogan’s illness sparked speculation on some social media accounts outside Turkey that he had suffered a heart attack or was hospitalized.
On Thursday, polls opened for Turks in Germany, the largest Turkish diaspora community with 1.5 million eligible voters, to cast their ballots from overseas