Turkish President Recep Erdogan is still “in charge” and will resume his duties “after a little rest” his party’s spokesperson said Wednesday, dismissing widespread rumors on social media that he was seriously ill.
Erdogan had cut short a live TV interview and later canceled his election campaign rallies on Wednesday and Thursday, citing health reasons. This sparked multiple unsubstantiated rumors about his health, including that he had a heart attack and was the victim of a Russian poisoning attempt.
In a tweet Wednesday, Omer Celik, the spokesperson for Erdogan’s Justice and Development party, said, “There is immoral, fake news in some foreign media about the health of our president. Our president is in charge. After a little rest, he will resume his scheduled programs like normal. We would like to express our gratitude to the wishes and prayers of our nation for his health and well-being.”
On Tuesday, Erdogan, 69, appeared to look sick and abruptly stopped a TV interview during which he told the interviewer that he had an upset stomach and had been diagnosed with stomach flu.
His office then cleared his schedule for the remainder of Tuesday and Wednesday, with Erdogan later tweeting that he would be resting home “following the advice of my doctors.”
His health scare comes just weeks before the May 14 presidential election.
Pundits say it will likely be Erdogan’s most difficult election in his 20 years in power, with opinion polls showing his support has not recovered much following the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake in February that killed over 50,000 people.