Turkey: Erdogan returns to election trail after illness

The Turkish president had been away from the public eye recovering from gastroenteritis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday made his first public appearance in three days after what his office called a stomach infection kept him off the election trail for a few days before the country heads to the polls next month.

Erdogan addressed a crowd at an aviation trade fair, Teknofest, in Istanbul and flung flowers in the direction of supporters who came with Turkish flags.

Alongside the 69-year-old Turkish president at the event were Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah.

Both Azerbaijan and Libya have used Turkish combat drones, amid conflicts, and these unmanned machines are set to feature at the weekend aviation festival.

Illness struck live on TV

Erdogan had been out of the public eye since falling ill live on television on Tuesday night. His TV appearance had prompted a flurry of rumors about his condition and led to the government sharing a screenshot of some such examples and calling them nonsense.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Erdogan was suffering from gastroenteritis — a digestive problem that can be treated easily and usually clears up in a few days.

When addressing the crowd, Erdogan spoke about the government's efforts to help the victims of a February's massive earthquake that claimed more than 50,000 lives.

During his speech he did not talk about this week's health scare, instead focusing on the launch of what he called a new "century of Turkey."

Military pilot named for space mission

At the Teknofest aerospace technology event, Erdogan revealed the Turkish candidate for the country's first manned mission to the International Space Station in late 2023.

Military pilot Alper Gezeravci was chosen for what's scheduled to be a short 14-day stay on the ISS, Erdogan told the crowd. A rocket engineer was selected as the substitute candidate, he said.

Erdogan ofen uses ambitious technological or defense projects as selling points on the campaign trail. His main rival in the elections Kemal Kliicdaroglu had on Friday announced plans to establish a space research center in Istanbul if he wins.

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