Turkish authorities certify Kurdish mayor despite ruling party's objections to his age

Updated in the fifth paragraph after the Supreme Election Council (YSK)'s decision over Ahmet Türk

Turkey’s ruling Islamist party has demanded veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk, elected mayor of the southeastern province of Mardin, not be allowed to take up the post on the grounds that he is too old, Demokrat News Site reported on Friday.

Türk, born in 1942, was first elected a member of parliament in 1973 and is a veteran of the Kurdish movement. Türk won the election for mayor of Mardin with 56 percent of the vote on March 31 and is among dozens of elected candidates from the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) waiting for the Supreme Election Council (YSK) to issue certificates of election so they can take office. 

report on Wednesday said 48 out of 70 successful HDP candidates had still not received their official election certification.

Türk was also elected Mardin’s mayor in 2014, but was later dismissed by the government and replaced with an appointed administrator. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had previously asked the provincial electoral council to give the certificate of election to its candidate who came second in the vote on the grounds that Türk had previously been removed from office.

The provincial council declined the request, but also left the final decision to the YSK head office in Ankara.

The YSK on late Friday has ruled that Türk will be given his mandate 12 days after the local elections, according to Turkish news site Gazete Karınca. Following the decision, the veteran Kurdish politician posted a tweet and said: "Where were we?"

The AKP’s provincial organisation then appealed Türk’s election for a second time on the grounds that he was unfit to be the mayor as he was too old and had health problems.

Though the AKP and its far-right allies won most a majority of the overall vote and most municipalities in the nationwide local elections, they lost most of the big cities that account for a large part of the population and the economy. Stung by the losses, the AKP has appealed for a rerun of the vote in the biggest city, and objected to results elsewhere. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during the election campaign that the local polls were a matter of survival for the country and hinted his government might appoint administrators to replace elected mayors, if they were linked to terrorist organisations.

Following the coup attempt in 2016, blamed on Islamist former Erdoğan allies, the government replaced more than 90 HDP mayors with its own administrators on the grounds that the elected officials were linked to a banned Kurdish insurgent group.