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Not the end of the road for Turkish opposition chief

Not the end of the road for Turkish opposition chief

On Sunday, the leader of Turkey's main opposition party completed a 25-day "March for Justice" from the capital Ankara to Istanbul Sunday and joined hundreds of thousands of supporters at a rally against a large-scale government crackdown on opponents.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the secular Republican People's Party (CHP), on July 8 said he helped organize the trek to bring to light "grave injustices and illegalities" in the country's court system.

"'I reached the end of my walk, but this is not the end".

"I think our relationship here in Turkey which has been under some stress for some time, I hope we are beginning to put it on the mend", he said.

The march ended with a mass rally in Maltepe district on the Asian side of Istanbul. "This is a warning".

Turkey issued arrest warrants for 72 university staff, state media said on Monday, including a former adviser to the main opposition leader who staged a mass rally on Sunday to protest a crackdown since a failed military coup a year ago.

Turkey subsequently embarked on the most extensive crackdown in its modern history, arresting over 50,000 people and sacking 100,000 more from their jobs.

More news: US Senator McCain Says No Peace In Afghanistan Without Pakistan Involvement

He said Sunday's Istanbul rally was the third time the opposition had come together in large numbers - firstly in the 2013 protests in Istanbul's Gezi Park, then in April over the referendum which narrowly approved Erdogan's new powers. The authorities, however, have not impeded the walk's progress, with police providing security every day. "We walked because we are against terrorist organizations and because of the fact that the judiciary has been taken under the orders of politics".

The demonstration was meant to be balanced, and reportedly did not contain party flags or slogans as they were banned by organisers.

The Trump administration also has persisted in resisting Turkey's demand that it extradite Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and is accused by Erdogan of masterminding a failed military coup in July 2016.

But ties are still being eroded by disputes ranging from Syria to the extradition of the alleged organiser of last year's failed coup to the fate of a USA pastor jailed in Turkey since October. "The place for justice is the parliament, not the roads", said the prime minister. In May, the U.S. State Department condemned the actions of Turkish security officials who clashed with protesters outside Turkey's embassy in Washington D.C. during Erdogan's trip to meet with President Donald Trump.

Even as Tillerson spoke Sunday at the opening ceremony of an oil conference, tens of thousands of Turks were in the streets of Istanbul for an opposition rally.

"The era we live in is a dictatorship", Kilicdaroglu said.

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