Turkish authorities start excavation work just before HDP’s election rally

Municipality workers excavated streets of predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyabakır's Hani district by the orders of the authorities, where the pro-Kurdish party was scheduled to organise an election rally, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency reported on Friday.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has been planning to hold an election rally in Hani district on Saturday with the attendance of the party's co-leader Pervin Buldan. The workers have begun removing the stones on the road leading to the party's office in the district, where the pro-Kurdish party will hold a rally for March 31 local elections, according to Mezopotamya. 

The head of the HDP's district office, Cemal Satı, said the appointed mayor's decision just came after they decided to hold an election rally.

"Locals have been complaining about the patchy stones (on the street) for a year but (the idea of) repairing the road has just come to their minds," said Satı. The timing of the diggings is questionable, according to Satı.

In a separate incident, in the eastern city of Tunceli, two young men were detained after they refused to shake hands with the appointed mayor of the city, leftist news site Sol reported on Friday.

Eyewitnesses said government-appointed mayor Tuncel Sonel wanted to shake hands of two local men, but they were manhandled and detained when they refused to salute Sonel. The men were released after being questioned, Sol said.

The Turkish government removed from office more than 80 of the 103 elected mayors representing the HDP and replaced them with government-appointed administrators as part of a crackdown on the pro-Kurdish party following the July 2016 coup attempt.

However, some 58.1 percent of voters in Turkey living in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces said the government’s decision to dismiss elected mayors and to appoint bureaucrats in their places had not affected their voting preferences, according to recent surveys. When asked which party they would vote for in March, 45.7 percent said they would vote for the HDP, while 28.3 percent said the ruling party.

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