Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said he would appoint trusties to municipalities in which anyone linked with the outlawed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is elected as mayor in local elections in March 2019, the Evrensel daily reported.
The Turkish government has appointed trustees to more than 50 municipalities run by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and arrested dozes of co-mayors across southern Turkey over alleged terrorism links.
“The March elections are approaching. If those who are linked with terrorism win the elections, we will not wait for this or that reason. We will immediately do what is necessary by appointing trustees,” Erdoğan said during a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Kızılcahamam district of Ankara.
The Turkish president also said they would “never accept the HDP as an interlocutor until they sever ties with the terrorist organization.’
A Turkish court on Sept. 7 sentenced former HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş to four years, eight months in prison on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.
The sentence marks the first conviction for Demirtaş after spending 23 months in pretrial detention on a series of terrorism-related charges, facing a total of up to 142 years in prison.
Former HDP lawmaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder was also sentenced by the same court to three years, six months in prison on identical charges.
The PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast for more than three decades, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.
Many HDP deputies including the party’s former co-chairpersons and local politicians are facing terror charges and are jailed due to an ongoing government crackdown on Kurdish politicians in the country.
The HDP remains the second largest opposition party in Turkey’s newly restructured, 600-member parliament.