Four more mayors replaced by Turkish government appointees

The authorities in Turkey have dismissed four more mayors on terror charges and handed their duties to government appointees, Turkish daily Hürriyet reported on Wednesday.

The mayors of Varto, Bulanık and Erentepe, three districts in the eastern province of Muş, were detained this week and are under investigation for making propaganda for and membership of a terrorist organisation, Hürriyet said.

Including these three, 31 mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been replaced by government appointees since winning their seats in local elections on March 31.

The Turkish government says the HDP politicians are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, an outlawed group that has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984. Turkey’s Supreme Election Council authorised all candidates to run in the local elections, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned before the vote was held that HDP mayors would be replaced, the continuation of a policy that saw nearly 100 mayors dismissed after the last local elections in 2014.

The fourth mayor dismissed this week, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s mayor of a district in Izmir, is the 32nd and only non-HDP mayor to be stripped of his authorities since the March elections.

Urla Mayor İbrahim Burak Oğuz was arrested for alleged links to the outlawed Gülen religious movement, which the Turkish government says is responsible for a failed coup attempt in 2016.