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Ankara's colorful mayor declares US ambassador persona non grata

The US ambassador’s comments on respecting freedom of speech are challenged by Ankara's mayor — a shrewd social media expert — but not by the government.
Turkey's ruling AK Party (AKP) mayoral candidate and current Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek (C) attends an event as part of his election campaign in Ankara March 18, 2014.  The local elections will be the first concrete test of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's popularity since anti-government protests rocked major cities last summer and the corruption scandal erupted in mid-December. The race for Ankara is set to be among the closest , with current mayor Melih Gokcek, an argumentative character known for fiery co

Melih Gokcek has been the mayor of the Turkish capital, Ankara, since 1994. He is known as a flamboyant and loquacious member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and is quite active on social media. He appears on television frequently and has over 3 million followers on Twitter. He frequently engages pundits and colleagues into virtual duels.

On Jan. 15, Gokcek’s target was US Ambassador John Bass. Bass recently gave an interview to the pro-government daily Sabah where he had criticized terror activities, particularly those of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). This news was shared widely by pro-government networks as a sign of US support for Turkey against separatist movements.

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