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Turkey's opposition seeking recount of Ankara poll results

Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan celebrate their election victory in front of the party headquarters in Ankara March 31,
Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan celebrate their election victory in front of the party headquarters in Ankara March 31,

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's main opposition party is hopeful an internal recount of votes from Sunday's local polls will help reverse a victory for the ruling party in the capital Ankara, but a final verdict from electoral authorities is likely to take weeks.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party largely dominated Turkey's electoral map on Sunday's local polls, keeping control of the main cities, including the financial center Istanbul.

A reversal of the Ankara result would be little more than a consolation prize for the opposition, who failed to dent Erdogan's support nationally, in a vote that became a referendum on his rule as he battles allegations of corruption.

Erdogan dismisses the allegations as politically motivated.

No official results have been announced, but informal tallies from Turkish news channels put Erdogan's AK Party at 45 percent nationwide, compared to CHP's 28 percent.

In Ankara AK Party's candidate and incumbent mayor Melih Gokcek secured 44.6 percent of the votes, narrowly beating CHP nominee Mansur Yavas on 43.8 percent, according to provisional electoral board results.

Since Monday, hundreds of volunteers, mostly students, have been comparing and recounting votes for CHP after widespread allegations of irregularities spread on social media.

"We are confident that our candidate has won this race," a source at CHP's mayoral campaign said.

"They're trying to take it away from us by irregularities created in front of computer screens."

Results from the internal recount were expected later on Thursday, the source added.

Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) said it would consider all the challenges before announcing a final result, a process likely to take weeks.

The streets around the YSK building in Ankara were blocked by police on Thursday, after thousands of protesters calling for a recount had been dispersed by water cannon earlier in the week.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Jonny Hogg and Alison Williams)

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