Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday (May 8) accused his political opponents of causing disorder and siding with the terrorists. He made the accusations in a fiery speech just days before an election that’s poised to be close.

The Turkish president seemed to suggest that his opponents were behind the confrontations that erupted a day earlier when people threw stones at a key opposition figure in the eastern city of Erzurum. It is a stronghold of president’s AK Party (AKP). The voting is slated to take place on May 14. According to opinion polls, Erdogan faces biggest challenge of his career in upcoming elections.

“They (the opposition) are trying to defame our cities shamelessly by making a scene with their own provocations,” Erdogan said, without making direct reference to the events in Erzurum. Erdogan was speaking during a rally in the western town of Edirne.

“They are looking for a cover for their prospective defeat in the elections by provoking and insulting people,” he added.

Erdogan’s words are being seen as an attempt to shore up his appeal among conservative and nationalist voters. 

Protesters threw stones at Ekrem Imamoglu, Mayor of Istanbul on Sunday. Imamoglu is a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Imamoglu will be vice president if opposition’s Kemal Kilicdaroglu wins presidential vote.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu appeared to take Erdogan’s line and blamed the opposition for violence in Erzurum.

He claimed that Istanbul mayor’s wife had provoked the crowds by making a ‘V’ sign at another rally last week. Soylu said that the gesture referred to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is outlawed in Turkey.

“People of Erzurum have high sensitivity on nationalism. If you go to these cities and provoke them over their sensitivities, then God forbid,” Soylu said in a live broadcast late on Sunday.

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