Interior minister faces backlash over his threat to ‘ruin’ Istanbul mayor

Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu threatened “to ruin” Istanbul’s newly elected mayor over his visit to ousted Kurdish politicians and critics who took aim at the ruling party for replacing three elected mayors.

Soylu, who was reacting to Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu’s denouncing of the Justice and Development Party government’s dismissal of three pro-Kurdish People`s Democratic Party (HDP) mayors in Diyarbakir, Mardin, and Van provinces last month over terrorism accusations.

“Know your place. This country has been busy with this terror organization for 40 years. […] If you don`t do your job and deal with some other stuff we will ruin you.”

Ankara dismissed the three and replaced them within five months after the local elections. None of the three has been convicted, although charges are pending.

As a part of a crackdown on HDP politicians and their supporters following the dismissals, the police detained more than 400 people blaming them for supporting the outlawed militant group, Kurdistan Worker`s Party (PKK).

The AKP government’s move to ban the elected mayors drew sharp criticism from the main opposition Republican People`s Party (CHP) which defeated President Tayyip Erdogan`s political movement in Istanbul and Ankara after 25 years in June local elections.

Imamoglu denounced the dismissal of the mayors labeling it “illegal and undemocratic” during his visit at the weekend to the Kurdish province of Diyarbakir where he met two of the ousted mayors and expressed his support.

The AKP accuses the HDP of links to the PKK.

Soylu targeted the Istanbul mayor on Tuesday during his speech in the northwestern province of Bursa.

Asserting the dismissals were according to the law, he also called Imamoglu “ignorant.”

CHP’s deputy chairman Seyit Torun lashed out at Soylu over his remarks urging him to show respect to the national will and the result of ballot boxes.

“It’s arrogance for an appointed minister to overtly threaten an elected mayor,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

CHP Manisa MP Ozgur Ozel also rebuked Soylu through a tweet he posted from his official account:

“Soylu who has threatened a mayor elected twice for the biggest metropolis of the world must know his place, make a lap,” he said, referring the revote in Istanbul`s elections following AKP had not admitted the first-round defeat.

Erdogan had said before the June`s election that his government would not hesitate to replace mayors all around the country over terrorism or other charges.

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