Erdogan denies lavish palace has gold-plated toilet seats
Jun. 01, 2015
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's president has invited the country's main opposition leader to inspect the lavatories in his lavish palace, insisting he won't find any gold-plated toilet seats.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited Kemal Kilicdaroglu to the 1,150-room palace for the inspection Monday after the secular party leader accused Erdogan of excessive spending of taxpayers' money on luxuries, including gold-plated toilet seats.
Turkey holds general elections on Sunday. Erdogan is not running but has been campaigning on behalf of the ruling party — which he headed for more than a decade. He hopes it can get a large enough majority to change the constitution and replace Turkey's parliamentary political system with a presidential system with a powerful head of state.
Kilicdaroglu has refused to set foot in Erdogan's palace — which opposition parties and some non-governmental organizations say was constructed on protected land despite court rulings — and has boycotted events there since it was inaugurated last year.
The vast complex in Ankara was built on farm and forest land that was once the property of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and has been dubbed "the illegal palace" by critics.
"A president who respects the rule of law and court decisions would not live in an illegal place," said Gursel Tekin, secretary-general of Kilicdaroglu's Republican People's Party.
"It is out of the question for Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who has espoused the notion of the supremacy of the law ... to go to the illegal palace," he said.
On Sunday, Erdogan told state-run TRT television in an interview that he would resign if Kilicdaroglu found a gold-plated toilet seat at the $620 million palace.
He also challenged Kilicdaroglu to resign if none is found.
The interview was conducted in a palace room decorated with gold-colored furniture.