ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Former Co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Selahattin Demirtas, who remains in jail, was a likely contender in the upcoming June elections, two sources from his party told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.
Lawmaker Adem Geveri of the Van Province said the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) committees were holding meetings for a final decision to be revealed this week.
“We have no other alternative,” the MP said when asked about what the HDP strategy would be to promote him given authorities continue to keep him in a supermax jail.
Arrested on the charges of separatism and terrorism, Demirtas serves time in jail in the westernmost province of Turkey, Edirne, since late 2016.
Despite his withdrawal from the HDP leadership last month, Demirtas’ political standing remains formidable among the country’s millions-strong Kurdish population and larger opposition.
Another MP, Imam Tascier of Diyarbakir, also voiced the possibility of Demirtas’ running on June 24 snap elections as a candidate to rival incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose rule his critics at home and abroad say has become increasingly authoritarian.
Tascier, talking from Diyarbakir, said the Kurdish public certainly wanted Demirtas.
“However, it remains to be seen if HDP will choose him, because we may agree on another candidate who the other opposition also backs,” he said, downplaying Demirtas’ chances.
When asked if party officials have visited Demirtas in prison to discuss the elections, both MPs refrained from further details.
Another, and possibly the last, hearing of the case against Demirtas for who prosecutors ask up to 142 years for will be held in Ankara on April 30.
Instrumental during the talks and ceasefire between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish government, he has described his continued detention as “being a hostage” to Erdogan’s plan of “forging a one-man rule” in the country.
Once branded as “the Kurdish Obama” by international media outlets for his swift rise, the 45-year-old former human rights lawyer managed to gain support from 9.7 percent of voters from across Turkey in 2014 presidential elections.
Meanwhile, meetings between other opposition parties went on.
Felicity Party’s leader Temel Karamollaoglu, a figure who came to prominence after he refused his small Islamist party’s entry into an electoral alliance with Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), has given hope to the secularist blocs.
On Monday, he met with social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Over the weekend, Kilicdaroglu had ordered his 15 lawmakers to switch to the ultranationalist IYI Party, a splinter faction from the Erdogan-allied far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
After the meeting with the CHP leader, Karamollaoglu told reporters he was to sit down with the former President Abdullah Gul, a member of AKP, in a bid to convince him to rerun for the presidency against his one-time comrade, Erdogan.
According to the new election laws the AKP introduced, the president will be elected through a two-round system.
A candidate must receive at least 50 percent plus one of the popular vote to get to the office.
If no candidate clings to an overall majority, the two most voted go for a runoff, the winner of which becomes president.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany