Turkey Kurdish party co-leader given 5-month jail sentence

Selahattin Demirtas. (AFP file photo)
Updated 21 February 2017

Turkey Kurdish party co-leader given 5-month jail sentence

ANKARA: A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered the co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas to serve five months in jail, in the latest legal blow to the politician.
Demirtas has been held in jail since November on charges of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and making terror propaganda on their behalf.
If found guilty in that case, he risks up to 142 years in jail.
In a separate case, a court in the eastern city of Dogubayazit convicted Demirtas of denigrating the Turkish state and its institutions and sentenced him to five months in jail, state media said.
Demirtas is currently being held at a prison in Edirne, in northwest Turkey, far from the southeastern heartland of the Kurdish movement.
In a separate development, Turkish authorities on Tuesday stripped the other co-leader of the HDP, Figen Yuksekdag, who is also held in jail, of her parliamentary seat.
The move was based on a 2013 conviction for “terror propaganda” which was validated by the top court of appeals in 2016.
According to the Anadolu news agency, the validated conviction was read out by the deputy speaker in the plenary session, which is enough for an MP to lose their seat.
The move means that the number of HDP MPs in the Turkish Parliament has now fallen to 58, Anadolu said.
Demirtas and Yuksekdag are among a dozen HDP MPs being held in prison ahead of trial on charges of links with the PKK after being detained last year.
The EU has expressed anger over their detention, calling on Turkey to abide by its obligations under the rule of law.
The detentions came after Turkey defeated a failed July 15 coup aimed at bringing down President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and blamed on US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.
But critics complain the crackdown goes well beyond the alleged coup plotters and accuse the authorities of using a state of emergency to muzzle all opposition.
HDP MP Ahmet Yildirim said that the decision over Yuksekdag “violated the Turkish constitution,” asking why the move did not come immediately after the verdict was approved by the appeals court five months ago.


Tunisian president chooses former finance minister to be PM

Updated 51 min 5 sec ago

Tunisian president chooses former finance minister to be PM

  • Elyes Fakhfakh has a month to form a coalition capable of winning a confidence vote in parliament by a simple majority
  • The choice of Fakhfakh, 48, underscores the country’s economic priorities following a decade of low growth

TUNIS: Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday designated Elyes Fakhfakh as prime minister, a presidency statement said, after the fractured parliament this month rejected a government proposed by an earlier nominee to the post.
The former finance minister now has a month to form a coalition capable of winning a confidence vote in parliament by a simple majority, or there will be another election with urgent economic decisions hanging over the country.
The choice of Fakhfakh, 48, underscores the economic priorities following a decade of low growth, high public debt and declining services since the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy.
Fakhfakh, a former employee of the French energy company Total, served as finance minister in 2012 in the volatile period after the revolution and also worked as tourism minister.
The incumbent government of Youssef Chahed has since 2016 tried to rein in spending while addressing the aftermath of two major militant attacks in 2015 that devastated Tunisia’s crucial tourism industry.
However, it has been acting as a caretaker government since the Oct. 6 parliamentary election in which the largest party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, took only a quarter of the seats.
It nominated Habib Jemli as prime minister in November, but his proposed government failed to win parliamentary backing and lost a confidence vote on Jan. 10.
That meant President Saied, who was also elected in October, had the right to designate his own choice of prime minister to try to form a government.
Tunisia’s constitution splits power between the head of state and the government, leading to several periods in recent years of political struggles between them.