More than 300,000 supporters of Turkish opposition leader Bulent Ecevit defied an official ban and rallied without incident in central Istanbul on Friday (3 June) to climax the campaign of the social democrat Republican Peoples Party (RPP) for Sunday's general election.
GV Armed troops in line across road with armoured cars standing by (4 shots)
SV Crowds in street and policeman searching woman's handbag
LV Armed troops on rooftop
TV Crowds enter square singing a carrying placards
SV Opposition leader, Bulent Ecevit, waving to crowd from top of bus (3 shots)
TV ZOOM OUT Crowd singing and cheering
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Background: More than 300,000 supporters of Turkish opposition leader Bulent Ecevit defied an official ban and rallied without incident in central Istanbul on Friday (3 June) to climax the campaign of the social democrat Republican Peoples Party (RPP) for Sunday's general election.
SYNOPSIS: Security was tight for the rally in Taksim Square, and thousands of troops and police were called in to make sure there were no incidents. The tight security followed several attacks against Mr. Ecevit and a letter from Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel -- disclosed by Mr. Ecevit on Thursday (2 June) and acknowledged by Mr. Demirel -- that the opposition leader might be the target of an assassination attempt at the rally.
The meeting was held despite a ban imposed by the regional election commission acting on a procedural objection from the Justice Party of Mr. Demirel. The atmosphere was good-humoured and friendly despite the presence of so many troops. Mr. Ecevit, himself a former Prime Minister of Turkey, is expected to make large gains at the expense of Mr. Demirel's party in Sunday's election.
Mr. Ecevit was under heavy escort by armed police as he entered and left the square. Mr. Demirel denied in a radio broadcast later that he had tried to stop the rally, saying copies of the warning letter were sent to security authorities with orders to take necessary precautions. Only three small groups of anti-Ecevit dissidents were detained as they approached the square.