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Turkey’s Erdoğan falls ill during interview

An interview with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan running for his third term in office was cut short on Wednesday when the man suddenly felt ill.

President since 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is looking to secure a third term in office with promises of slashing inflation to single digits and boosting economic growth. His campaign, however, was brought to an abrupt halt on Wednesday.

During an interview on pro-government channels Ülke TV and Kanal 7, Erdoğan fell suddenly ill. But after a 20-minute break, he returned to offer an explanation.

“We had intense election campaign work yesterday and today, and during these works, I had a serious stomach flu,” Erdoğan said.

Following the interview, speculations have arisen as to the cause and consequences of the incident. One Twitter user suggested that a “heart attack in the back wall of the heart usually mimics gastrointestinal complaints at the start and the prognosis is usually not favorable.”

But Turkey’s Health Minister was quick on Thursday to dispel any conspiracy theories regarding Erdoğan’s health.

“I was with President Erdoğan this morning. His health is well. The infectious gastroenteritis he has experienced has lessened its effect. He will continue scheduled programs as soon as possible,” Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Erdoğan first took office in 2014. Turkey’s shift to a presidential system in 2017 allowed him to nullify the three years he had already spent in office and restart his tenure. But the political maneuver drew fierce criticism, prompting some to deem his third run for the presidency illegitimate.

Erdoğan’s main contender is the soft-spoken Republican People’s Party head Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Slightly ahead of the incumbent in the polls, Kilicdaroglu and his allies are promising to return Turkey to a parliamentary system, rolling back many of the changes introduced by Erdoğan.

Although the elections are slated for May 14, voting has already begun in Germany.

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