ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkey’s Ministry of Interior seized 28 municipalities with a government decree on Sunday over alleged ties to “terrorist” organizations.
Municipalities of two provincial capital cities, Batman and Hakkari, and those of 26 counties and towns are now in the hands of the central government.
The ministry appointed trustees, most of them governors and deputy governors, to the seized municipalities’ administrations.
In a statement released online, the Ministry said all the mayors of the captured districts had already been ousted from their seats beforehand, stressing 12 of them were currently in detention.
The number of detained mayors rose to 13 shortly after the seizure as police arrested the mayor of the Kurdish town of Cizre Leyla Imret in Sirnak Province.
Imret was elected with 83 percent of votes in the 2014 Turkish local elections when she was 27-years-old.
GROUNDWORK FOR CIVIL WAR
Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen described the seizure of municipalities and dismissal of elected mayors as “groundwork for a civil war.”
Bilgen added the government’s move went against local democracy and law.
Of the mayors ousted, 24 are members of an HDP ally, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) that won 100 municipalities, including three metropolitan ones in the 2014 elections.
The government accused DBP mayors of aiding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), a transnational umbrella group for PKK-affiliated organizations.
The other four mayors were members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), until their expulsion last August.
AKP alleges their loyalty lies with the US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement or “FETO” (Fethullah Terrorist Organization) as dubbed by Turkey’s authorities that blame the group for the failed July 15 coup.
Last Friday, Minister of Interior Affairs Suleyman Soylu announced the government’s plan to appoint trustees to municipalities.
He stated “the administration of 28 municipalities will no longer be under instructions from the Qandil,” reference to a mountain range in the Kurdistan Region where PKK military leadership is based.
“People devoted to the star and the crescent [the flag of Turkey] will be in charge," the Minister added.
Meanwhile, an Internet outage was reported in at least 15 Kurdish-majority provinces early Sunday morning, wrote the private-owned Dogan news agency.
It was not clear whether the outage was related to any political development and the cause remains unknown.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Reporting by Ari Khalidi)