Erdogan on campaign trail after weeks of protests

By REUTERS
June 21, 2013 13:17

 
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KAYSERI, Turkey - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan kicks off a weekend of rallies in his conservative strongholds on Friday, displaying his grassroots support after weeks of often violent anti-government protests.

Tens of thousands are expected to gather in a square in Kayseri, an industrial city in Turkey's pious Anatolian heartland, to hear the blunt-talking 59-year-old urge voters to back his ruling AK Party before municipal polls next March.

Similar rallies are planned for the weekend in the eastern city of Erzurum and Samsun on the Black Sea coast.

The meetings follow three weeks of protests against Erdogan's perceived authoritarianism, unrest which dented Turkey's image for stability and riled a leader who sees himself as a champion of democratic reform.

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