ANKARA — Turkish presidential candidate Muharrem Ince announced Thursday that he was pulling out of the general election race, a shocking move three days ahead of the critical vote.
Speaking at a press conference in Ankara, Ince, leader of Memleket (Homeland) Party and formerly of the main opposition party, said that he was withdrawing for his country, but stopped short of endorsing any candidate.
"Let there be no excuses. Otherwise, when they lose the election, they will put all the blame on us on the morning of the election. They have no excuse,” he said, in an apparent jab at the main opposition party. “I’m doing this for my country.”
Sunday's elections will now be fought between three candidates: incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and ultranationalist Sinan Ogan. Although polls give a single-digit lead to Kilicdaroglu, he has yet been unable to secure more than 50% of the vote, according to opinion surveys released this week before Ince’s announcement.