“If you happen to send the opportunities provided by the state to Qandil, we will once again, immediately and without waiting any further, appoint our trustees. And we will not continue the way with you,” Erdoğan said at a rally in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat on Feb. 25, referring to the mountains in Iraq where the PKK headquarters are.
The government had previously replaced elected mayors with trustees on grounds that they allegedly aided and abetted PKK’s activities. The appointments were made predominantly in eastern and southeastern provinces’ municipalities run by the Peoples’ Democratic Party(HDP).
Following the government’s move, the HDP had said that they will “put all efforts” to win back the municipalities in the March 31 local elections. “We’ll put an effort to get back the municipalities to which trustees were appointed through the public’s will and their votes at the ballot box,” HDP spokesperson Saruhan Oluç had said last year.
The government says the HDP has links to the outlawed PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. The HDP denies accusations of links to the PKK and says it is being unjustly targeted by the government.
“What does he [HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli] say? ‘We’ll win in Kurdistan. And we will have the AKP and MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] lose in the West.’ Look at this immoral man. When did such a region called Kurdistan occur in Turkey? We’ll not let the country be divided by you. You will not be able to divide our country. You will get the answer in the best way on March 31,” Erdoğan said, referring to Temelli’s remarks in early February.
Erdoğan claimed that PKK militants disguised as members of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and İYİ (Good) Party are “planning to be registered as poll officials in many places” in a bid to intervene in the election results. “People will give their votes to the CHP, to a party whose name is ‘İYİ’ but is in itself disoriented. But as a result, the PKK will rule the roost in these places,” he said.
Erdoğan also touched on the alliance between the CHP and İYİ Party, claiming it would change Turkey’s boundaries in line with what terror organizations want, the economy would be bound to the IMF, and foreign policy would be in the hands of foreigners’ interests were it to come to power.