Ahead of vote, Turkey's Erdogan says US attacking economy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, during a rally in Adiyaman, Turkey, Tuesday, March 26, 2019, ahead of local elections scheduled for March 31, 2019. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's president accused the United States and other western nations on Thursday of attacking Turkey's economy ahead of Sunday's local elections.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his claims after the Turkish lira lost some 5 percent of its value against the dollar after days of high volatility.

In a town hall meeting with students that was broadcast on Twitter, Erdogan said the market gyrations were "a squeezing operation by the West and the United States in particular." He said the alleged interventions would not succeed.

Analysts say the Turkish lira's volatility is due to Turkish officials' efforts to support the currency by limiting financial speculation against it. That seems to have backfired, however, by making some foreign investors worried about the value of holding investments in Turkish lira.

Erdogan, meanwhile, on Thursday reiterated his belief that interest rates must be lowered to fight rising inflation, the opposite of what independent economists recommend.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Ankara later, Erdogan vowed to carry out structural reforms "that will strengthen our economy against such attacks" after the elections. He did not elaborate.

Erdogan's party risks losing control of the capital, Ankara, in the March 31 vote as Turkey's economic downturn, marked by double-digit price inflation, begins to bite.

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