Jailed former Kurdish party chair Demirtaş to run as presidential candidate 

The jailed former leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş will stand as a presidential candidate whether he is found guilty or not, the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper said.

Citing health reasons, 44-year-old Demirtaş did not attend a hearing at an İstanbul court on Monday where he faces terrorism charges. Demirtaş, who has been jailed since November 2016, could face jail sentences totalling more than 100 years on a string of charges.

Cumhuriyet said there were no legal restrictions preventing Demirtaş from standing in the election. It said Demirtaş would announce his candidacy on May 1 and submit his formal application to the electoral board days later.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan scored 52 percent of the vote in the last presidential elections in 2014. Demirtaş came third with 9.76 percent.