Turkish government ready to oust pro-Kurdish mayors elected in March - columnist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signalled the central government would appoint administrators to replace mayors elected in March polls if they were deemed to have links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), columnist Abdülkadir Selvi said in Hürriyet on Wednesday.

The government has already appointed bureaucrats to take the place of dozens of elected mayors belonging to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country. Authorities say the mayors are linked to the PKK, which has been fighting Turkish forces for more than 30 years.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in 2016 the mayors were replaced so that local municipalities would no longer be controlled by "terrorists or those under instructions from Qandil", referring to the PKK's base in northern Iraq.

Many of the dismissed incumbent mayors were later arrested and imprisoned.

Erdoğan had a meeting on Tuesday with a delegation from the eastern province of Ağrı, a town whose mayor was appointed by the government, Selvi said.

“In elections in March, as we have done in other places, we will not let mayors who are sending the money of the people to Qandil to serve in those positions,” Selvi quoted Erdoğan as telling the delegation.

“From the president’s words, I got the idea that they will take special measures for municipalities run by administrators. It is understood that one of the measures considered is to appoint administrators to municipalities whose mayors are confirmed to have links to the PKK,” Selvi said.