New co-mayors disclose 3.5 million TL debt carried over from previous gov’t trustee

The newly elected co-mayors of Turkey’s southeastern Lice district have revealed that the trustee who was previously appointed by government handed over the office with more than 3.5 million Turkish lira debt, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported on Friday.

The previous trustee, who was appointed as the mayor of Lice by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), took over the office free of debt in February 2017. At the time, the Diyarbakir’s Lice district municipality had  7,536,000 lira funds available.

The current municipality’s co-mayors from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Tarik Mercan ve Ruken Yilmaz, won the recent district’s mayoral election race on March 31 and took their seats on April 15.

Mercan and Yilmaz announced on Friday that the municipality was handed over to them with a debt of 3,586,000 lira. They disclosed the municipality’s debt by hanging a banner on the front wall of the town hall.

The banner, displayed for all the people of Lice to see, showed that the total amount owing to Ilbank, a state-owned development and investment bank based in Ankara, is 2,844,038 lira, an amount of 583,423 lira to the state-owned Ziraat Bank, and 159,361 lira to the Social Security Institution of Turkey, all of which are now left in the hands of the newly elected co-mayors.

The overall debt of Turkey’s municipalities exceeded 3.5 billion dollars in September 2018, according to statistics of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance.

A law enacted in the September following the attempted coup targeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP government in July 2016, granted a right to the Interior Ministry to dismiss mayors and municipal council members from office.

Approximately 95 democratically elected HDP mayors were replaced with administrators who were appointed by the Erdogan regime in the predominantly Kurdish southeast region of Turkey. Seventy-one of the replaced mayors were then arrested on terror charges.

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