March 31 - Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan claims victory in local polls that became a referendum on his rule. Paul Chapman reports.
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Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan claims victory in local polls that became a referendum on his rule.
It's been a long and bitter election campaign and the biggest challenge yet to his 12-years in the post.
(SOUNDBITE)(Turkish) TURKISH PRIME MINISTER TAYYIP ERDOGAN SAYING:
"In this new period Turkey needs an opposition that will embrace its people just like the ruling party. Turkey doesn't need an opposition that encourages discrimination and polarisation but it needs and opposition which will speak the same language as 77 million."
Erdogan's vowing to 'enter the lair' of his enemies who've accused him of corruption and leaking state secrets.
He says it was all part of a smear campaign by a moderate U.S.-based Islamic cleric using police and judiciary followers to fabricate allegations against him.
Such allegations don't appear to have dented the faith of his supporters.
(SOUNDBITE)(Turkish) HULYA YILANKAYA, AK PARTY SUPPORTER, SAYING:
"We're very happy. We were waiting for this result and we hope that it will be good for the country."
Despite the jubilation over the poll results Erdogan now faces the prospect of rebuilding the nation's police force after purging thousands from its ranks.
That's no easy task.
Having got rid of those he considers unreliable he can't be sure the replacements he brings in are loyal.
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