Opposition CHP mayor dismissed in Turkey followed by crackdown on Kurdish municipalities

CHP leader Kilicdaroglu accused President Erdogan of corruption and his government of removing the mayor of Istanbul's Atasehir district with political motives.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - The mayor of an opposition Turkish Republican People's Party (CHP)-held municipality in Istanbul found himself dismissed from his post by the government on Friday, a development followed by an ongoing clampdown on pro-Kurdish local administrations.

The Interior Ministry removed mayor Battal Izgeldi of Istanbul's Atasehir district over allegations of corruption, charges he and his party have denied.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu vowed defiance during a Saturday press conference along Izgeldi, accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government of opting for undemocratic means to suppress the opposition, Kurdistan 24's Turkish language service reported.

In a press release, the ministry rejected any political motive and said the decision was based on "just, legal and objective," grounds.

Ankara began removing co-mayors of over 100 pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP)-held municipalities last year on terror charges, and have so far imprisoned 80 of them, including the co-mayors of Diyarbakir Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli.

Authorities then appointed bureaucrats, or trustees, to run municipal affairs in Kurdish cities and towns.

"They are trying to intimidate us. They are using prosecutors and judges, filing million-dollar cases against us," he said later in a public rally in Atasehir.

He called on the voters to "stand up" for the elected mayors and promised not to allow the government to "touch" them.

Individual CHP lawmakers and officials have spoken up against the state seizure of municipal administrations in the Kurdish provinces, but the centrist party failed to take a firm stance against the policy of removing democratically-elected mayors.

Kilicdaroglu reiterated his earlier allegations against Erdogan, saying President, his family, and former cabinet members were the ones involved in financial scandals.

In September, Erdogan, also the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), asked the mayors of Istanbul, the capital Ankara, and four other major cities to resign, a move viewed by the opposition as an intra-party purge.

Privately-owned Milliyet newspaper revealed this week that six more CHP-held municipalities were under investigation by the central government.


Editing by Sam A.