Days ahead of vote, Ince withdraws from Turkey presidential race

In a dramatic development, one of the presidential candidates in Turkey’s knife-edge elections has withdrawn from the race in a move expected to bolster the chances of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main challenger.

Muharrem Ince of the Homeland Party announced on Thursday that he was standing down from the presidential election, just three days before polls that have been billed as the most important in recent Turkish history.“I’m withdrawing my candidacy,” Ince told reporters. “I am doing this for my country.”

In a statement, Ince blamed an apparent smear campaign against him as the reason behind his decision to pull out from the race.

“Turkey could not protect my reputation. A presidential candidate’s reputation is important,” said Ince.

The 59-year-old, who branded the Homeland Party and his movement as the “third way”, was the only contender without an alliance backing him.

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