Turkey may soon dismiss mayors of its biggest cities - columnist

The Turkish government may move to dismiss main opposition mayors from the country’s largest cities after replacing mayors in three predominantly-Kurdish southeast provinces, secularist columnist Emin Çölaşan said in Sözcü daily on Tuesday.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry on Monday replaced Diyarbakır Mayor Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Mardin Mayor Ahmet Türk and Van Mayor Bedia Özgökçe Ertan -- all of whom were elected in March for the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) -- with state-appointed governors taking over their posts.

Following the announcement, Özgür Mumcu, a former columnist and an academic, said on Twitter that the mayors of Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir could be dismissed in the following days.

Similarly, pro-government daily Sabah columnist Ersin Ramoğlu said on Monday that Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayors in Turkey’s largest cities could be removed from office on charges of siphoning money.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) faced major blows in local polls in March, with the CHP winning local elections in five of Turkey’s six most populous provinces. 

“Though we have no concrete evidence at hand, I would say ‘might be’ if you asked me,” said Çölaşan in relation to concerns that the removals will continue and target the CHP mayors. 

The Turkish government says HDP mayors support the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been fighting inside Turkey since 1984. 

“If the mayors who were removed from duty yesterday are engaged in terrorism, why did the government let them run in March 31 polls and make propaganda?” Çölaşan wondered, adding that the dismissals would further damage Turkey’s credibility in the eyes of foreign countries.