Posted BY: | NwoReport

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leads Saturday prayers at Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia mosque before entering the election battle of his political life against a powerful secular rival.

The 69-year-old will be emulating a ritual that Ottoman Sultans performed before they led their men off to war as he braces for Sunday’s parliamentary and presidential ballot.

Erdogan has never faced a more energized or united opposition than the one spearheaded by retired civil servant Kemal Kilicdaroglu and his disparate alliance of six parties.

The Turkish leader excelled at splitting his rivals and forging unlikely unions while winning one national election after another for 21 years.

But his Islamic-rooted party is reeling from anger over Turkey’s economic meltdown and a crackdown on civil liberties during Erdogan’s second decade of rule.

The six opposition parties have put aside their political and cultural differences and joined forces for the lone task of pushing Erdogan out.

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They are officially supported by Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party — a group that accounts for at least 10 percent of the vote.

“Enough is enough,” Kurdish housewife Hafize Timurtas told AFP moments before campaigning officially concluded. “We can’t take this anymore.”

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The math is not adding up in Erdogan’s favor and most polls show him trailing his secular rival by a few points.

Kilicdaroglu is now desperately trying to break the 50-percent threshold and avoid a May 28 runoff that could give Erdogan a chance to regroup and reframe the debate.

Kilicdaroglu on Saturday laid carnations at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — a revered military commander who forged a secular state out of the Ottoman Empire’s ruins in 1923.

It was a defining moment that underscored the contrasting visions the two men have for their increasingly polarised nation of 85 million people.

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