Turkey election: Candidates hold final campaign rallies

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Campaigning in Turkey’s first direct presidential election is entering its day ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Candidate and current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to hold final in the central Anatolian city of Konya.

The post of president, previously chosen by parliament and largely ceremonial, is being put to a popular vote for the first time.

Erdogan has said he wants to enhance presidential powers.

At his penultimate rally in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Friday, Erdogan called on his supporters to “explode ballot boxes on Sunday and deal a democratic slap” to his political opponents.

With the clock ticking down to the end of campaigning, his two rivals also reached out to voters on Friday.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu visited the town of Soma, which in May was the scene of Turkey’s worst ever mining disaster. [eap_ad_1] Erdogan’s handling of the tragedy, in which 301 miners were killed, was widely criticised and he has steered clear of the area during his campaign.

Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas held the biggest rally of his campaign in Turkey’s largest Kurdish city of Diyarbakir on Friday.

Tens of thousands of people waving Kurdish flags turned out to hear him speak.

Ihsanoglu, 71, is the joint candidate of the two main opposition , the centre-left Republican People’s and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party.

Demirtas, 41, is a member of the left-wing .

Correspondents say the election has become a referendum on Mr Erdogan, an Islamist-rooted politician whose support base lies in Turkey’s conservative, pious heartland.

The winner must get more than 50 per cent of the vote.

If no candidate reaches this mark in the first round, a run-off will be held on August 24.