Pro-Kurdish party slams Turkey ban on elected mayors taking office

The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) on Wednesday ordered that individuals sacked by an emergency decree during purges after a 2016 failed coup could not take up their posts despite being elected. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 April 2019
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Pro-Kurdish party slams Turkey ban on elected mayors taking office

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has often accused the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of ties with PKK Kurdish militants
  • HDP has always denied its alleged links to the militant group

ANKARA: Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party on Thursday hit out at electoral authorities for blocking some of its successful candidates from taking office after a March 31 local vote.
The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) on Wednesday ordered that individuals sacked by an emergency decree during purges after a 2016 failed coup could not take up their posts despite being elected, DHA news agency reported.
The candidate who came second would be able to serve in the post instead, DHA said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has often accused the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of ties with PKK Kurdish militants, a charge the party denies.
The HDP said the YSK decision affects many candidates who had already been authorized to stand in the ballot by the same electoral council.
“This step taken by the YSK is part of a deliberate political conspiracy, nothing else” by the ruling AKP and its coalition nationalist MHP partner, HDP spokesman Saruhan Oluc told reporters in Ankara.
The HDP cannot challenge the YSK’s move or even take the council to court, Oluc said, but urged the YSK to reverse the decision.
“Show respect to the people’s will,” he said.
Hundreds of HDP members and around 40 of its mayors are currently in detention, accused by authorities of ties to PKK militants who are fighting a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.
An HDP official who asked not to be identified told AFP that eight of the party’s candidates elected in the Kurdish-majority southeast were affected by YSK’s move.
One of those was the HDP candidate for the Baglar district of Diyarbakir, who won with more than 70 percent of the vote.
The candidate who came second was from Erdogan’s AKP, with 25 percent. In most of the areas affected, the second candidate is from the AKP.
More than 140,000 people were sacked or suspended from the civil service or public institutions after the 2016 failed overthrow of Erdogan, blamed by Turkey on US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen. Gulen denies Ankara’s accusations.
The majority of those sacked including teachers are accused of links to Gulen but several thousand are suspected of Kurdish militant links.
After the failed coup, the government installed local administrators to replace 95 of the 102 municipalities held by pro-Kurdish mayors elected in 2014.
Before the vote last week, Erdogan threatened to do the same again, replacing mayors linked to “terrorism,” he said.


Britain planning sanctions in response to Iran tanker seizure, says report

Updated 7 min 6 sec ago
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Britain planning sanctions in response to Iran tanker seizure, says report

  • In letter to UNl, Britain says Iran approached tanker in Omani waters
  • Letter says the Iranian action “constitutes illegal interference”

NEW YORK/LONDON: British ministers are making plans aimed at targeting Iran with sanctions in the aftermath of the Iranian seizure of the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce on Sunday diplomatic and economic measures, including potential asset freezes, as a response to the incident, according to the report.
Britain could push for United Nations and European Union sanctions to be reimposed on Iran after they had been lifted in 2016 following a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, the Telegraph reported.

Britain on Saturday told the United Nations Security Council  that the Stena Impero was approached by Iranian forces when it was in Omani territorial waters and the action “constitutes illegal interference.”
“The ship was exercising the lawful right of transit passage in an international strait as provided for under international law,” Britain’s UN mission wrote to the Security Council. “International law requires that the right of transit passage shall not be impeded, and therefore the Iranian action constitutes illegal interference.”
The letter, seen by Reuters, was also sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Friday’s action in the global oil trade’s most important waterway has been viewed in the West as a major escalation after three months of confrontation that has already taken Iran and the United States to the brink of war.
It follows threats from Tehran to retaliate for Britain’s seizure on July 4 of the Iranian tanker Grace 1, accused of violating sanctions on Syria.
“Current tensions are extremely concerning, and our priority is to de-escalate. We do not seek confrontation with Iran,” the letter read. “But it is unacceptable and highly escalatory to threaten shipping going about its legitimate business through internationally recognized transit corridors.”
Britain called on Iran to release the Stena Impero tanker and told the Security Council it was working to resolve the issue through diplomatic means.