Erdogan takes early lead in crucial Turkish election

Erdogan takes early lead in crucial Turkish election

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took an early lead on Sunday in a landmark election that could extend his two-decade grip on power or put the mostly Muslim nation on a more secular course.

The Anadolu state news agency showed the 69-year-old picking up more than 52 percent of the vote and his secular rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu trailing with 41 percent.

But Anadolu's figures were based on a count of less than 50 percent of the ballots and Kilicdaroglu claimed that his party's own vote count showed him winning.

"We are leading," Kilicdaroglu tweeted after Anadolu's results started coming out.

Most of the early votes appeared to be coming from heavily pro-government districts and Erdogan's lead was shrinking as the number of counted ballots grew.

"We are seeing a positive picture, according to our data," opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) spokesman Faik Oztrak told reporters.

"We will start to give the numbers when the number of opened ballot boxes reaches a meaningful level."-AFP