Ban on pro-Kurdish elected officials confirmed

Kurdish protesters take part in a demonstration in Istanbul after Turkey’s electoral board barred prominent Kurdish candidates from standing in elections. (AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019
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Ban on pro-Kurdish elected officials confirmed

  • The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had demanded the ban be annulled because the same electoral authority already allowed the candidates to run in the March 31 election

Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council on Thursday upheld a ban on candidates from a pro-Kurdish party taking office after they won local elections, state news agency Anadolu reported.

The council, known by its Turkish initials YSK, last week decided to bar the candidates from taking up their posts because they were on a list of people fired from public office after a 2016 failed coup.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had demanded the ban be annulled because the same electoral authority already allowed the candidates to run in the March 31 election.

Anadolu said the demand for the six districts in the predominantly Kurdish southeast had been rejected, which means the second place candidate takes up the post. In some of the districts it will be a candidate from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP.

A HDP source confirmed the decision to AFP and said the party could not appeal. It had called the measure a blow to Turkish democracy.

Erdogan’s AKP won most seats nationwide in the municipal election, but in a setback lost the capital Ankara and Istanbul, the country’s largest city and its economic hub.

Erdogan has often accused the HDP of ties with PKK Kurdish militants fighting a decades-long insurgency against the state, a charge the party denies.

Hundreds of HDP members and around 40 of its mayors are currently in detention, accused by authorities of ties to the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

The ban on the candidates is related to a decree to fire or suspend more than 140,000 people from the civil service or public institutions after the 2016 failed overthrow of Erdogan.

Ankara blames the coup attempt on US-based Turkish 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.


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.