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Published: Saturday January 18, 2014 MYT 1:45:01 AM
Updated: Saturday January 18, 2014 MYT 1:45:53 AM

Turkey seizes assets of opposition party's mayoral candidate

Mustafa Sarigul, one of the two candidates for the leadership of the Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) waves to his supporters at the beginning of his party's 13th extraordinary congress gathered in Ankara, January 29, 2005, where the new leader of the party will be elected. Deniz Baykal, the CHP's leader, is being challenged by Mustafa Sarigul, mayor of a district of Istanbul. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Mustafa Sarigul, one of the two candidates for the leadership of the Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) waves to his supporters at the beginning of his party's 13th extraordinary congress gathered in Ankara, January 29, 2005, where the new leader of the party will be elected. Deniz Baykal, the CHP's leader, is being challenged by Mustafa Sarigul, mayor of a district of Istanbul. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish authorities seized the assets of Mustafa Sarigul, the main opposition party CHP's candidate for Istanbul mayor, an official said on Friday, ahead of a crucial local election due to take place in March.

Turkey's Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) seized Sarigul's assets after he and his business partners failed to repay a loan dating back to 1998, the TMSF official said.

The move coincides with heightened political tensions amid a far-reaching corruption scandal that has led to the detention of prominent businessmen as well as sons of former cabinet ministers close to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Sarigul will run against Istanbul's incumbent mayor, Kadir Topbas of Erdogan's centre-right AK Party. Polls suggest Topbas, who has run Turkey's largest city and business capital for about a decade, will beat Sarigul, though the race may prove tight.

(Reporting by Asli Kandemir, Writing by Humeyra Pamuk, Editing by Gareth Jones)

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