Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Fewer Migrants At The U.S. Border Than Expected Post-Title 42; Heavy Rain And Strong Storms At Texas Border; Ukrainians Eye Major Counteroffensive After Gains In Bakhmut; U.S. Default Risk Looms As Negotiators Work Through Weekend; Turkiye Heads To The Polls Sunday Amid Crippling Inflation. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired May 13, 2023 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and all around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead, crowded confusion as a strict border policy ends. We'll look at what comes next for the migrant crisis on America's doorstep.

Plus President Zelenskyy and Pope Francis expected to meet at the Vatican. We're live in Rome and London with the latest.

And the default is feeling more real, with time running out on a plan to raise the nation's debt ceiling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: We begin this hour at the U.S.-Mexico border, where several key cities report fewer migrants arriving than expected after Title 42. The COVID era policy allowed authorities to expel most migrants.

A senior official says there was no substantial influx of migrants at the southern border on Friday after Title 42 expired Thursday night. And the number of migrants in Border Patrol custody has dropped slightly compared to earlier this week.

Still, across all levels of government, officials are preparing for more arrivals. The end of Title 42 marked a major shift in policies after three years of pandemic rules. Ed Lavandera is in El Paso with a look at how officials are adjusting to the change.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After Title 42 ended late Thursday night, some migrants discovered they didn't make it in time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

LAVANDERA (voice-over): This father and son from Venezuela were turned away but he says, the goal is to get to the other side to find a way to reach the United States. But we'll have to wait and figure it out.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We've been very, very clear that there are lawful, safe and orderly pathways to seek relief in the United States. And if one arrives at our southern border, one is going to face tougher consequences.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In the days leading up to last night's deadline, border officials saw a surge of migrants. More than 23,000 are now in CBP custody, down slightly from earlier this week.

But the end of Title 42 did not trigger the historic wave of migrants rushing to cross the border Friday that was predicted. In El Paso, thousands were waiting to be processed outside the border gate.

RAUL ORTIZ, U.S. BORDER PATROL CHIEF: We are prioritizing those most vulnerable populations. We're doing this as quickly as efficiently and as safely as we possibly can.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): That number now down to a couple hundred, says the city's mayor.

MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D-TX), EL PASO: After yesterday's spike at about 1,800 that came in yesterday, we've not seen any additional big numbers come in through the El Paso sector.

JOHN MARTIN, EL PASO MIGRANT SHELTER DIRECTOR: We have lean-tos or tents, whatever term you want to use, literally, all along the wall.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): John Martin runs a network of shelters in El Paso and said the crowds have dramatically dwindled in recent days.

MARTIN: As of about 11 o'clock this morning, we had no new arrivals.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): While he was surprised at the lack of influx the morning after Title 42 lifted, he doesn't expect it will stay this way.

MARTIN: I have to admit, it is nice to be able to breathe one more time. But we can't let our guard down, because we still know it's coming.

LAVANDERA: In January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened this massive tent processing facility in the El Paso area, about 20 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. It is designed to be able to hold about 1,000 migrants at a time.

And as you can see, construction crews are working to expand. And we're told by CBP officials, in June, they'll have room for another 1,000 migrants to hold at this facility. LAVANDERA (voice-over): In Brownsville, dozens of buses line up near an intake facility. But a major humanitarian group in the area tells CNN they only had one bus of migrants arrive today.

About 155,000 migrants were estimated to be in shelters and on streets in Mexico, waiting to enter the U.S., a source familiar with federal estimates said.

Migrants will still risk their lives to make it to the U.S. and, from now on, people who cross the border illegally will face a tougher path to requesting asylum. Many will be deported, like this group, who were shackled and led onto a repatriation flight, like this one, leaving for Guatemala on Thursday.

LAVANDERA: In the days leading up to the end of Title 42, this alleyway behind a migrant shelter in El Paso was packed with migrants, sleeping outside.


LAVANDERA: All of that has changed.

And what several migrant advocates tell us is that, for now, they think that migrants on the Mexican side of the border are reassessing the border landscape, trying to figure out when the next best opportunity might be to cross into the U.S. -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.


BRUNHUBER: Federal officials say they are preparing for difficult days and weeks ahead at the southern border. An official in Texas likened the end of Title 42 to a coming hurricane.

Earlier I spoke with Dylan Corbett, the executive director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, and I asked him if the situation will be less like a hurricane and more like a sustained storm, where the U.S. might see high numbers for longer periods.


DYLAN CORBETT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE, EL PASO: I think that there are always naturally peaks and troughs whenever you look at the border. There are times when the numbers go up. There are times when the numbers go down.

I think overall Title 42 created a bit of a bottleneck situation. So you do have migrants throughout Mexico, migrants on their way to the border.

BRUNHUBER: You spoke about Title 42 and people wanting to get in under the wire before that expired. The impression that was being given, certainly in the media, was that, after Title 42, it would be a lot easier to get in, therefore you'd have this big surge.

Why do you think people wanted to get in before the expiration of 42? What's the difference between that and the new policy?

CORBETT: We're moving from one bad policy to one that's not much better and, in some cases, it's actually worse. So many migrants, for example, crossed under Title 42 and would have been expelled back to Mexico or back to their home countries.

They might actually be deported now and they may be facing a penalty of up to five years so they can't come back to the United States. And if they do, they could face severe consequences. So in some respects, the new Biden policy is actually a bit more harsh in terms of deterrence.

For those who are across, who are in El Paso where you are, we were talking to some people earlier about how the shelters are overflowing and conditions were already bad. What kind of conditions are they facing now?

Under Title 42, you had a situation where many migrants coming from around the world but also in the region, Central America, South America, increasing from Mexico, will return back to Mexico. That put a lot of burden on nosh Mexican communities.

So El Paso, just across the river from me is our sister city. There are thousands of migrants will return. They had a lot of needs for shelter, needs for medical support, psychological assistance, all the things you'd expect a vulnerable population that was authors forced to wait community.

The shelter needs are going to continue. Because under the new Biden policy, they are going to be deporting people back there. So they will continue to be a need. As we open up the need to access to the United States, it's going to produce more need on the northern side.

We're going to have a situation in which there will be need for shelter, for human service, for support on both sides. It's more complicated than it was in the past.


BRUNHUBER: Migrants waiting at the border will be facing harsh weather conditions. Almost the entire state of Texas is under some level of risk for excessive rain, flash flooding, hail and damaging winds in the coming hours and days.



BRUNHUBER: Russia concedes it suffered setbacks in Bakhmut. But now Russian troops are reportedly in attack mode, trying to regain the ground they lost. We have that story ahead.

And for the first time since Russia invaded, Ukraine's president is expected to meet with the pope. Details on what the Vatican hopes the meeting will achieve. That's coming up. Please stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)




BRUNHUBER: Russia is reportedly trying to push back against Ukraine's advances in Bakhmut. A Ukrainian officer in the city is reporting intense counterattacks as Russia tries to regain the ground it lost in recent days.

Moscow is conceding it pulled back from positions north of Bakhmut. CNN has geolocated this social media video, which appears to show Russia troops in hasty retreat.

The leader of Wagner says Ukraine gained two square miles. But as Kyiv makes progress there, they are also keeping an eye on a bigger counteroffensive that seems to lie ahead. Nic Robertson has more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Amid shell-smashed trees, Ukrainian troops figure out how to get as close to the new hard won gains around Bakhmut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go behind me, distance five meters. He's going last.

ROBERTSON: How far from the Russian lines here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Close to 800 to 900.


What lessons here about a much anticipated bigger Ukraine counteroffensive.

You can see here how the ground is drying out, how wet it was before, how hard it would be for the armored vehicles to get through. The battlefield is changing. Now summers coming. And that's everything for the counteroffensive.

So we have to go a bit faster here, because they take a lot of incoming fire here.

If not for the war, it would be a lovely walk. A little cover here from shelling.


ROBERTSON: We have a drone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A drone. ROBERTSON: Just coming here, we've heard a drone above, we've got some cover in here, hopefully, they won't see us down here. Getting closer and closer to the Russian lines.

This trench, one of several and a new minefield position to block Russian troops about 600 meters away from a counterattack out of sight. North and south of here, more Ukrainian troops advancing, building on the recent gains here.

Ukraine's Western allies say that shaping operations for the big counteroffensive are already underway. Commanders here won't say if this is part of that counteroffensive. But the gains they've had around Bakhmut are a huge morale boost for Ukrainian troops.

How does it feel to be in the battle now and to actually after all this time take more territory?

HONZA, COMBAT MEDIC: I love it actually. I love it because I'm with my family, with guys that are my family.

ROBERTSON: But success, not all that's binding appetite for victory. Mounting Russian atrocities fueling anger.

HONZA: We all just want to take our territory back and kill maximum possible Russians we can.

ROBERTSON: Do you think the Russians understand that?

HONZA: No, I don't think so. They're going to get killed, all of them.

ROBERTSON: It's going to be a tough fight for you then.

HONZA: Yes, also. But we're ready for this. It's our land.

ROBERTSON: As we leave, there are more explosions.

Then this --


ROBERTSON: We don't ask, we just run. And keep running.

We hear drones, so we're running.

They've got their armor troop transporter ready.

Yes, getting back in now, drones overhead, more artillery coming.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It's ancient Soviet equipment. More modern NATO armor busy elsewhere on the battlefield.

ROBERTSON: There's going to be months and months and months, if not years, of warfare like this, (INAUDIBLE) taken back all those lost miles (ph).

ROBERTSON (voice-over): -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


BRUNHUBER: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he's in Rome to meet with the Italian president, the prime minister and the pope. He's meeting with Pope Francis. This happening almost two weeks after the Vatican said it was involved in a peace mission to try to end the war in Ukraine.

In a tweet, Zelenskyy said this was an important visit for what he called "an approaching victory."

For more, we have our CNN Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher, live in Rome.

But first let's go to Salma Abdelaziz in London with the latest developments in Ukraine.

Let's start with news of more Russian drone attacks.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we got information from the Ukrainian air force a couple hours ago. Overnight, it says, it was able to intercept 17 of 21 Russian drones fired on Ukrainian territory.


ABDELAZIZ: And the drones that were able to make it through those interceptions struck a city that is between Lviv and Kyiv, an area that's generally considered safe. Those drones hitting infrastructure and causing several people to be injured, a reminder of just the suffering far from those front lines you saw in Nic Robertson's piece.

BRUNHUBER: In Russia's crosshairs, the U.S.-made Patriot system in Ukraine.

ABDELAZIZ: Yes, so this is something U.S. officials are boasting about. I think a good sign that just a few weeks into receiving getting those Patriot systems on the ground, Ukraine was able to effectively use them.

U.S. saying Russian forces were targeting these Patriot missile systems near Kyiv. And instead, the Patriot missile systems were able to intercept those missiles targeting the systems themselves.

U.S. officials going on to say that Ukrainian forces demonstrated a sophisticated use of the Patriot missile systems to intercept that Russian projectile. It's important to note that Ukraine has been able to get two Patriot missile systems, one from the U.S., one from Germany.

This incident that I'm describing taking place on May 4th. Just a reminder of how quickly Ukrainian forces are receiving this Western weapon and using it in the battlefield.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. Salma, thank you. We want to go now to Delia Gallagher with more on President

Zelenskyy's expected meeting with the pope.

An interesting meeting in the context of the pope's position on Russia and the war.

What can we expect?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, President Zelenskyy has arrived in Rome. He sent out the tweet, in which he says he will be meeting with the Italian president, with the prime minister and the pope.

We don't know the exact timing of those meetings. Officials keeping the timings close to their chest for security reasons.

As to the meeting with the pope, they have a fairly good relationship. They have spoken on the phone several times throughout the war. Pope Francis, yes, is wanting to act as a mediator.

He said it many times before and, just two weeks ago on the plane, he alluded to a peace plan in process. Kyiv and Moscow both immediately denied knowing about that plan. But the Vatican insists they do know and it is underway. They haven't given any other details.

So presumably, that's going to be most of the content of the pope's meeting with President Zelenskyy.

The problem is the other side, the pope's relationship with Russia. He's not been able to speak directly with President Putin. He has tried, through the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, who is a supporter of the war and Putin. That hasn't gone so well either for Pope Francis.

But there was a glimmer of hope early in May, when Patriarch Kirill sent his foreign minister to greet the pope in Rome. So Pope Francis' position here is patience. He doesn't necessarily expect any kind of an immediate result. He's said so himself.

But he wants to keep the doors of dialogue open. He wants the Vatican and his position as pope to be a place where people can come for mediation and, in that, he's just trying to get all the actors to talk.

So I think the pope will think it's successful at least that he's able to meet face to face with President Zelenskyy and continue to offer, as he says, an outstretched hand to Vladimir Putin as well. He has been criticized for it.

He has certainly condemned the Russian aggression but he's been criticized for not being more vocal against Putin. But the pope defended that by saying he wants to keep the doors of dialogue open.

BRUNHUBER: We'll be watching for this throughout the day and see what comes of it. Delia Gallagher, thank you. This just into CNN: Germany announced a short time ago it will supply

Ukraine with an aid package worth nearly $3 billion. The German ministry of defense says this may include a variety of military hardware, armored personnel carriers, tanks and over 200 drones.

The U.S. economy could fall off a cliff if the debt limit isn't raised soon. Coming up, we'll explain how a routine budget matter has become the latest flashpoint between the White House and Republicans and how it could hit home for many Americans.

Plus fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants enters a fifth day. How the violence is taking a toll on civilians.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

I want to go back to our top story this hour. U.S. cities along the border with Mexico report fewer migrant crossings than expected on the first day since Title 42 expired. It allowed authorities to expel most migrants in Texas.

In El Paso, the mayor says the city saw a spike in migrants in the days leading up to the policy change but he says it's been a smooth transition out of Title 42. Federal officials say there was no substantial increase overnight or an influx at midnight after the measure expired.

As of Friday afternoon, more than 23,000 migrants were in U.S. Border Patrol custody, slightly fewer than earlier in the week.

More American states are asking the courts to stop a federal policy which would allow authorities to release migrants without a court notice if facilities become too crowded. The Biden administration says the ruling will result in unsafe overcrowding and plans to appeal. Priscilla Alvarez has the latest from Washington.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden is facing legal challenges from both ends of the political spectrum as the administration is trying to manage the U.S.-Mexico border following the lifting of the COVID-19 era border restriction known as Title 42.

Late Thursday, a federal judge in Florida temporarily blocked the administration from releasing migrants without court dates. That's a tool that the administration has used for some migrants, as it tries to alleviate any overcrowding in border facilities.


ALVAREZ: And then, two, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with other groups, filed a suit to block the administration's new asylum rule that would largely bar migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they traverse through another country and didn't first try to seek refuge there.

They said that is against U.S. and international law. But the one with the immediate effect was the ruling in Florida. Officials said they're trying to assess all options as they again work to alleviate any overcrowding in border facilities.

Sources tell me that the litigation was considered baked into their planning with the assumption that there might be lawsuits, as there have been over the course of the Biden administration, over border policy.

They're also assessing how migrants are taking their next steps, as the administration rolls out top enforcement measures with the return to decades-old protocol. Of course, all of this, a challenge that the administration is still trying to navigate.

A Homeland Security official telling me that encounters on a daily basis still hover around 10,000, which is a record. Even though some custody numbers may be going down, it is still over capacity.

Homeland Security officials have been briefing reporters and saying they still see a challenge, though there was no substantial increase of crossings when Title 42 lifted. Still a long few days and weeks ahead -- Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Unless Congress acts soon, economists warn a financial meltdown could be just a few weeks away. They are burning the midnight oil aiming to avoid the first U.S. default in history.

If that were to happen, consequences would be severe in the U.S. and around the world. Aidan Quigley covers budget and appropriations for "CQ Roll Call" and joins us now from Washington.

Thank you for being here with us so early.

Just big picture, where are they at?

It sounds as though progress is slow and there's still a long way to go.

AIDAN QUIGLEY, "CQ ROLL CALL": I think that's a very fair assessment. And thank you for having me on. By now negotiators for the president's team are negotiating the contours of a deal, in which the debt limit would be based. But we're definitely in the early stages of those negotiations. BRUNHUBER: The fact that we're talking about negotiations here, the

bottom line is Democrats, after insisting they wouldn't negotiate over the debt ceiling, they are now negotiating.

So what is on the table here?

QUIGLEY: So the main three topic areas being talked about now, parts of a potential deal are spending caps, unspent pandemic money and changes to permitting regulations. Democrats will argue they are having normal conversations as part of the process. But at this point, it's very clear that this is tied to raising the debt limit.

BRUNHUBER: OK. You cover Congress, so you know this battle happens all the time. There's always this brinkmanship between the two sides over the debt limit and a deal always gets done.

Are the dynamics different this time around, do you think?

QUIGLEY: I think any time there are a new set of players, they need to (INAUDIBLE) each other. Kevin McCarthy has a very slim majority in the House. So it will be interesting to see how things continue.

June 1st is the anticipated X date for when the Treasury will run out of borrowing room. So we have a couple weeks until (INAUDIBLE) but the closer we get to that date, the more uneasy the financial markets become and the more pressure is put on the Congress to take action.

BRUNHUBER: Maybe the closer we get to President Biden taking an extreme measure?

There's the 14th Amendment. It says that the president has the authority to order the debts to be paid regardless of the debt limit that Congress put in place. President Obama, when he faced a similar situation, he asked his lawyers.

And his lawyers said, quote, they are "not persuaded that this is a winning argument." Biden says he's considering it.

Does he have better lawyers?

Is he bluffing here?

QUIGLEY: So the Treasury Secretary called this legally questionable. The Constitution does give Congress the power over the nations' financial matters.


QUIGLEY: But as you noted, the 14th Amendment does state, the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned. There is a train of legal thought that says it would be unconstitutional for Congress not to raise the debt ceiling.

This is definitely a last-case resort. Biden and his team know this would lead to litigation, which they don't know which way that would go. So there's definitely a focus and the priority would be to pass -- raise the debt limit without having to take extraordinary measure.

BRUNHUBER: Let's hope so. So a quick two-parter before we go.

Do you think they will get it done?

And if not, if the nation defaults, which side would shoulder more blame?

QUIGLEY: I have to hope that they would get it done. I think, if you look at history, negotiations before the default would happen, even if it does come down to the wire fairly frequently.

If there was a default, I think both sides would be taking a lot of heat. I'm not sure how the politics would play out on that. But I think there's a remote possibility but not impossible.

BRUNHUBER: The nation and the world will be watching. Aidan Quigley, really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

QUIGLEY: Thank you for having me on.


BRUNHUBER: Turkiye's future hangs in the balance with an opposition leader who could bump President Erdogan from office.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's asking Turkish citizens to pick a team that would lead Turkiye into democracy and economic transition.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Whatever the outcome of the election, the impact will be felt far from Turkiye's borders. We'll have a live report coming up after the short break. Please stay with us.







BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Loud explosions were heard in Gaza after the Israeli military new attacks on Palestinian militants. Israel claims to have struck two command centers of the Islamic Jihad.

It comes a day after Israel killed a commander of the organization in a wave of attacks that also targeted military posts and a mortar launcher in Gaza. At least 33 Palestinians have died since the fighting began this week.


BRUNHUBER: Turkiye is facing a watershed moment this weekend in one of the most pivotal national elections in a generation. Voters will decide among the three remaining presidential candidates, including incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If no one gets at least 50 percent of the vote, a run-off will be held May 28th.

Also at stake, 600 seats in parliament. The outcome there could profoundly affect Turkiye's role in NATO, its relationship with the E.U., its migration policy, its role in the Ukraine conflict and its tensions with Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean over sovereignty and natural resources.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us now.

With this election, what's the mood there?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just over five hours until campaigning comes to an end. And you have both sides campaigning, rallying, meeting with their people up until the last minute.

You have President Erdogan in his home city of Istanbul and Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Ankara yesterday. Massive crowds came out in the rain to show their support. This is really something that we have seen over the past few weeks.

Both sides still drawing the masses out to their rallies, really a reflection of the divided nation that Turkiye is, a very polarized country. And in about 24 hours from now, you're going to see tens of millions of Turks going out to the polling stations, where they will be casting their ballots in this really tight race.

They will have to choose between two very different candidates, who have two very different visions for this country.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): A sea of supporters rally around their leader and never has Recep Tayyip Erdogan needed them more.

It's a razor thin race, the toughest he's ever faced. And this is the man who may end his 20 year grip on power.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu often addressing people in these videos from his modest kitchen. The soft spoken and calm former civil servant is everything Erdogan is not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't imagine two men who would be as close as different as these two. The campaigns are different, too. Erdogan is promising to make Turkiye great again and really rolling out these big weapons systems, Turkiye's homegrown defense industry and all of that.

And Kilicdaroglu is pledging to be a uniter and with a real focus on diversity.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Kilicdaroglu siege peace (ph) Turkiye's main opposition party. It's never won a presidential election against Erdogan but this time he's the candidate of a united opposition. A diverse six party coalition of secularists, conservatives, defectors from the ruling AK Party and nationalists backed by Kurds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an exceptional moment where finally we have a Turkish opposition that is able to move beyond the limitations of identity politics, which always works to the benefit of President Erdogan, because you can count on the largest bloc awards in the Turkish culture war sensitivities.

And now they are fragmenting it with a much more inclusive agenda and a vision for the future.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): With campaign videos promising, quote, "spring will come again," Kilicdaroglu and his coalition are promising to reverse years of one-man rule, with a return to a parliamentary system, from a presidential one they say has eroded freedoms, hollowed out government institutions and plunged Turkiye into deep economic trouble.

KARADSHEH: For many, this goes beyond campaign promises. It's about moving away from divisive rhetoric. It's about softening positions and a call for unity in this bitterly polarized country.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): The 74-year old stunned Turks with this video that has been viewed more than 100 million times, a call for setting differences aside and for the first time speaking openly about his Alevi identity, a long persecuted minority sect.

KEMAL KILICDAROGLU, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We will no longer talk about identities. We will talk about achievements. We will no longer talk about divisions and differences; we will speak of our commonality and our common dreams.

Will you join this campaign for this change?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not asking Turks to pick him as the leader. He's asking Turkish citizens to pick a team that will lead Turkiye in to democracy and economic transition.

I think there's an overwhelming desire for change in society. That you can see with young people, women. What we don't know is whether they think this is the time and Kilicdaroglu is the guy.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): And on Sunday, Turks will decide whether they are ready for change, if they are ready to end the era of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


KARADSHEH: And there's a real tense mood of anticipation here, with less than 24 hours until polls open in this country.

And people are going to really have to make a decision, not just to choose between these two different men, as you saw in the piece, very different personalities and different visions for this country; people here have to really choose whether they want to stick with the vision that President Erdogan has set for the country.

The path he has put his country on or if they are going to choose change, that's really radical change that the opposition is promising by saying they are going to reverse the past few years of President Erdogan's rule.

They say they want to revive Turkiye's democracy. They want to bring back what they describe as real rule of law. And so people will have to make that decision.

It is up to Turks to decide if they do want that change. And people will tell you this is not just about the next five years; for them, this is about the future of the country, about the future of Turkish democracy.

BRUNHUBER: All right, we'll be following this throughout the weekend. Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul, thank you so much.

And for our international viewers, be sure to watch CNN's special live coverage of the 2023 Turkiye elections, hosted by Becky Anderson this Sunday at 7:00 pm in London, right here on CNN.

Still ahead, the battle on the court is heating up, as the NBA playoffs inch closer to the finals. Andy Scholes is striding onto the set as we speak, to join me with all the live highlights.








BRUNHUBER: Thank you for watching. That wraps this hour. Kim Brunhuber. "CNN THIS MORNING" is next. For the rest of us, it's "TRANSFORMERS."