Turkey’s opposition party leader has urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop escalating tensions and dragging the country “into the fire” as anti-government protests that have led to three deaths entered their 11th day.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the secular Republican People’s Party, told theHurriyet newspaper Monday the country is “witnessing a prime minister who is trying to hold on to power by creating tensions.”
Erdogan, meanwhile, was heading a Cabinet meeting to discuss the protests – the first serious challenge to his 10-year rule.
Turkish protesters refused to back down Monday despite facing another round of tear gas and water cannons for a second straight night. Demonstrators responded by throwing rocks at security forces.
The latest clashes came just hours after Erdogan told thousands of supporters in the capital, Ankara, that his patience with the anti-government protests is running thin.
Erdogan said Sunday that demonstrators would “pay a price,” adding that he would have to “speak the language” they understand.
The prime minister urged his supporters to avoid violence and use local elections next year to “teach a lesson” to their opponents.
Three people have been killed and thousands hurt since the protests began against government plans to tear down a public park in Istanbul. They have since turned into protests against what marchers call the prime minister’s imposition of his Islamist views on a secular nation.