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Turkish candidate Muharrem Ince drops out of presidential race

Third-party candidate Muharrem Ince on Thursday withdrew from Turkey’s tight presidential election in a shock move that increased the chances of an opposition first-round victory.

The 59-year-old announced his decision after being targeted by an online smear campaign that included doctored images of him meeting women and riding around in fancy cars. The secular nationalist picked up 30.6 percent of the vote when he challenged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2018 presidential polls.

He then quit the main opposition party and launched his own movement that began to pull votes away from secular leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu — the joint candidate of the anti-Erdogan bloc. 

“I’m withdrawing my candidacy,” Ince told reporters ahead of Sunday’s vote. “I am doing this for my country.”

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