Erdogan picks ex-prime minister to run for Istanbul mayor

Erdogan picks ex-prime minister to run for Istanbul mayor
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to journalists after Friday prayers, in Istanbul, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. Erdogan says the facts on the ground in a key northern Syrian town remain uncertain but he emphasised Turkey's goal of ousting a Kurdish militant group. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s president has nominated a former prime minister to run for mayor of Istanbul next year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Binali Yildirim would be the ruling Justice and Development Party’s candidate to lead Turkey’s biggest city.

Erdogan served as Istanbul’s mayor for four years before founding the party in 2001.

Yildirim currently is the speaker of parliament. He served as prime minister during 2016-2018 and before that as Erdogan’s transport minister.

A 2017 constitutional referendum abolished the office of prime minister and approved an executive system of government that expanded Erdogan’s authority.

Yildirim’s main opponent in the March 31 mayoral election will be Ekrem Imamoglu from the secular Republican People’s Party.