Respect local election victories, European local authorities congress tells AKP

The Turkish government must certify successful mayoral candidates in the predominantly Kurdish southeast who have still not received their official mayor’s documents, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe said on Friday.

“As stated by the Congress after the observation of the local elections, the democratic choices and decisions of the people, who are the sovereign in any Council of Europe state, have to be fully respected,” Anders Knape, the congress president, said.

“The implementation of the will of the voters has absolute priority in democratic systems,” he added.

By Wednesday, 48 out of 71 successful candidates from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had not received their certificates of election from the March 31 local elections.

Ahmet Türk, the HDP candidate for the south eastern province of Mardin, received his certificate on Friday despite a late challenge by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which said Türk was too old and infirm to serve as mayor.

Four of the HDP’s district mayors elected on March 31 were barred from taking office this week when the Supreme Election Council ruled that people who had previously been dismissed from public service by statutory decree could not take office. The council had approved of all four mayors’ candidacy before the elections.

Uncertainty continues in Istanbul, where the initial count put main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu ahead of his rival from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the mayor’s position.

The AKP has appealed for recounts and for a rerun of the election after raising accusations of electoral fraud.

“We call on the Turkish authorities to conclude the procedures for establishing the final results of the local elections in Istanbul as quickly as possible, and, more generally, to implement the decisions taken by the voters,” Knape said.

“The local representatives elected on 31 March must be able to exercise their mandate freely and in accordance with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government of the Congress. This implies also appropriate resources and fair conditions for the newly elected mayors in the municipalities, regardless of the political party for which they were running”, the Congress President concluded.”