Main opposition agrees ousting of Kurdish mayors is “political coup”

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said after a visit to Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu that his party agrees to its labeling of the recent suspension of three Kurdish mayors as a “political coup,” T24 news website reported on Monday.

Last week, Turkey’s ruling AK Party (AKP) government replaced three Kurdish mayors, Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, Ahmet Turk and Bedia Ozgokce Ertan from southeastern Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces with interim officials as part of a major terrorism-related investigation.

The move was harshly criticized in both local and international circles.  More than 400 people were also detained in southeastern Turkey over terror-related charges within the scope of the same investigation.

During the protests that followed the ousting of the three HDP mayors, Sezai Temelli, the leader of the pro-Kurdish party repeatedly labeled the incident as a “civilian coup” or a “political coup” targeting their party.

An HDP delegation led by Temelli on Monday paid a visit to Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), in his party’s headquarters and talked mainly about the appointment of trustees to three Metropolitan Municipalities in Turkey’s southeast, a new Constitution and judicial reform.

The HDP representatives included its co-chair Temelli as well as deputy co-chair Alican Onlu and lawmakers Mithat Sancar and Fatma Kurtulan, while CHP’s Kilicdaroglu was accompanied by CHP’s deputy chair Oguz Kaan Salici, spokesperson Faik Oztrak, and group deputy chair Engin Ozkoc.

“In mutual assessments, it is agreed that appointment of trustees to the Metropolitan Municipalities of Diyarbakır, Van, and Mardin is a political coup,” the parties said in a written statement following the meeting.

“The importance of a determined stance defending democratic principles and values is highlighted. In the meeting that went productive, it is determined that the opposition’s being in constant consultation about all important issues of the country and its joint quest for solution are valuable,” the statement further noted.

Also on Monday, CHP deputy Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate for the main opposition party in last year’s presidential election, visited Turk, Mardin’s suspended mayor.

“Both of our parties made mistakes in the past. My party’s mistake was [voting in favor of removing] the parliamentary immunity,” Ince admitted.

CHP supported a bill to remove parliamentary immunity in 2016 paving the way for the arrests of several HDP deputies, including the party’s former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas.

Senior members and supporters of the pro-Kurdish opposition have criticized CHP for not taking a firm stance against the dismissal of the mayors since last week.

An alliance between secular CHP and the nationalist opposition Good Party (IP) won the mayoral races both in Istanbul, Turkey’s business hub, and in the capital Ankara partly due to the support from the pro-Kurdish HDP in March’s local elections.

Turkish NGO calls on international support for ousted opposition mayors

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