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

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.


US reaches ceasefire deal with Turkey in northern Syria

Updated 9 min 31 sec ago

US reaches ceasefire deal with Turkey in northern Syria

ANKARA: Turkey has agreed to completely end military operations in northern Syria after Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone, US Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday.
Turkey's operation "will be halted entirely on completion" of the pullout, Pence told reporters after talks in Ankara.
"Great news out of Turkey," Donald Trump tweeted, shortly before Pence announced in Ankara that Turkey had agreed to end its military operation once Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone.
"Millions of lives will be saved!" Trump wrote.


Trump's chief of staff had earlier said the president may revoke a White House invitation extended to Erdogan, depending on the outcome of the talks in Ankara.
"It's still on the schedule," Mike Mulvaney told reporters, "but I think that's one of those wait and see things."
"The president's been very clear about what he wants to see out of President Erdogan," he added.