Ankara slammed over sacking of mayors

Ekrem Imamoglu (R), the new Mayor of Istanbul from Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) walks with the removed mayor of Diyarbakir, Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli during his visit on August 31, 2019, in Diyarbakir. (AFP)
Updated 31 August 2019

Ankara slammed over sacking of mayors

  • Imamoglu’s visit was the latest sign of warming relations between the CHP and HDP

DIYARBAKIR/TURKEY: Istanbul’s mayor on Saturday hit out at the Turkish government’s ouster of three pro-Kurdish municipality chiefs during a visit to the city of Diyarbakir.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who won in the June rerun of the Istanbul vote, called Ankara’s move an act of “carelessness.”

Imamoglu’s visit was the latest sign of warming relations between the CHP and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The mayors of the eastern cities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van — all HDP members elected in March — were sacked on Aug. 19 over suspected links to Kurdish militants.

Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli was Diyarbakir mayor before he was replaced by a government-appointed governor.

“There can be neither democracy nor rule of law in a place where elected officials do not leave via the ballot box,” Imamoglu told reporters in Diyarbakir.

He had met with ousted Mardin mayor, Ahmet Turk — a key figure in the Kurdish movement — and Mizrakli, who said Imamoglu’s visit offered “a glimmer of hope and was a source of strength for us.”

His visit to the Kurdish-majority region is significant for the secular CHP, which has not always had easy relations with the HDP.

But since Imamoglu’s election success was significantly supported by the votes of Kurds, as the HDP put forward no candidate in Istanbul, this relationship has improved.

The Istanbul mayor also paid tribute to Tahir Elci, head of the bar association in Diyarbakir and a campaigner for Kurdish rights, during a visit to his grave.

Elci was shot dead during clashes between Kurdish militants and police officers in 2015.

Last May, the CHP’s presidential candidate Muharrem Ince visited the imprisoned ex-HDP chief Selahattin Demirtas ahead of presidential elections in June 2018.


Soldier who shot Lebanese protester dead charged with murder

Updated 16 min 11 sec ago

Soldier who shot Lebanese protester dead charged with murder

  • Alaa Abu Fakhr, 38, was shot dead Nov. 12 by the soldier, who was trying to open a road closed by protesters
  • The soldier and the colonel were both referred to a military investigative judge

BEIRUT: A Lebanese soldier who shot and killed a protester in Beirut last week was charged Thursday by a military prosecutor with murder, state-run National News Agency said.
The agency said a colonel who was on the scene with the soldier at the time was also charged. The soldier could get a death sentence if convicted of murder.
Alaa Abu Fakhr, 38, was shot dead Nov. 12 by the soldier, who was trying to open a road closed by protesters in southern Beirut, marking the first death since widespread protests against Lebanon’s ruling elite began Oct. 17.
The soldier, who NNA identified only by his first name and the first letter of his last name, Charbel A, has been under detention since the day of the shooting. He and the colonel, identified as Nidal D, were referred to a military investigative judge who will start questioning them on Monday, according to NNA.
Protests exploded on the streets in mid-October in response to new proposed taxes and quickly evolved into an unprecedented nationwide uprising against the country’s entire political leadership. Protesters demand all those politicians go, blaming them for decades of systematic corruption that has left the Mediterranean country on the brink of economic and financial disaster.
Also on Thursday, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called for a session next Wednesday to study draft laws related to banking secrecy and retaking stolen state money.
Berri’s call came two days after protesters prevented legislators from reaching the parliament building to draft and study new laws. The protesters say parliament has no right to draft laws as there is no government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned Oct. 29, meeting a key demand of protesters.
President Michel Aoun’s office announced that a ceremony to celebrate Independence Day at the presidential palace on Friday has been canceled because of “the current situation.”
A military parade is scheduled to mark the anniversary at a barracks southeast of Beirut.