Pro-Kurdish HDP appeals election council’s decision denying office to newly-elected mayors

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has appealed a decision by the country’s top election board to withhold the certification of the party’s newly-elected provincial and district mayors who were dismissed from their prior jobs following decree laws implemented after the July 2016 coup attempt, independent news site Diken reported on Saturday.

HDP officials in the appeal accused the Supreme Election Council (YSK) of failing to uphold its constitutional duty of ensuring that elections are held in a safe and equal fashion, Diken said.

The YSK earlier this week announced that district mayors elected in this year’s March 31 local elections who had previously been stripped of office by presidential decree will not be allowed to take up office, citing their expulsion from their previous jobs by an emergency decree. The council said that it would be awarding the mayoral seat to the second placed candidates instead.

Stressing that the YSK’s decision is unconstitutional, the HDP said the council had “placed itself in place of the will of the electorate by assigning unelected mayors, thereby increasing its unconstitutional stance.’’

While those dismissed by government decree have a mark added to their official records, making it nearly impossible to be employed in the public sector, the YSK allowed candidates dismissed by decree to run in and take office after the June 15, 2018 parliamentary elections.

Following the 2015 collapse of a peace process between the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Ankara has intensified a crackdown on the HDP, which it accuses of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interests of the PKK, an armed group that has been in war in Turkey for over three decades.