Turkish president cancels campaign stops over stomach issue

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut short a TV interview over a stomach complaint. Credit: AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he was cancelling a day of election campaigning after he was forced to interrupt a television interview over a stomach complaint.

Erdogan was being interviewed live by Turkish TV networks when the program was suddenly stopped.

When the interview resumed around 20 minutes later, the 69-year-old explained that he had developed a serious “stomach flu” while campaigning and apologised for the interruption.

The president was scheduled to make a series of appearances in the cities of Kirikkale, Yozgat and Sivas.

He announced on Twitter that he would rest at home on the advice of his doctors and that Vice President Fuat Oktay would represent him at the events.

Turkish officials denied online rumours claiming that Erdogan had suffered a serious illness and was hospitalised.

“We categorically reject such baseless claims regarding President (Erdogan’s) health,” his communications director, Fahrettin Altun, tweeted.

Omer Celik, another senior ruling party member wrote: “Our president remains on top of his duties. After a short rest, he will continue with his program.”

Erdogan, who is seeking a third term in office as president, has been campaigning hard in the run-up to the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections, sometimes attending three or more events per day.

He is facing the toughest electoral test of his 20 years in office as prime minister and president, with opinion surveys showing a slight lead for his main challenger, centre-left opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

In 2011, Erdogan underwent what his doctors said was a successful surgery on his digestive system.

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