Turkish opposition leader protests high prices, has power outage

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, which has refused to pay his electricity bill in protest at high household energy prices, said authorities cut power to his home on Thursday.

Residential and business customers were hit by exorbitant energy bills after Turkish authorities sharply hiked electricity rates on January 1. The price hikes sparked protests and many small businesses displayed their bills on store windows to show how close they were to closing.

To provide some relief, the government has introduced a series of measures, including adjusting the level below which higher tariffs will apply to households and some businesses that consume more electricity. Yet many households struggle to keep up.

The leader of the center-left Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, vowed earlier this year not to pay his electricity bill until the government rescinded the price hikes.

“I just got news from my wife. They cut our electricity today,” Kilicdaroglu, 73, said in a video posted on Twitter on Thursday.

Kilicdaroglu said he wanted to show solidarity with some 3.5 million Turkish households who were cut off last year due to payment default, adding that prices have been above 400% in the past three years.

“Energy is a fundamental human right. It is like bread, it is like water, it is like air. Electricity is my right,” he said. “I wanted to be the voice of those who can’t afford to pay.”

There was no immediate response from government officials.

Turkey’s annual inflation rate rose to a two-decade high of 61% in March, eating up people’s savings and making it difficult to buy basic necessities such as food. Experts say real inflation could be much higher than the official figure.

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