Turkey election board appoints AKP runners-up to replace Kurdish mayors-elect

Ankara refuses to recognize at least eight HDP mayors who won by clear majorities in districts in the Kurdish region.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council on Wednesday ruled that mayors-elect who were previously dismissed from civil service with a presidential decree cannot become mayors, a decision that came 10 days after the country went to the ballot box and affects at least eight districts in the Kurdish region.

The Council known as YSK in Turkish will instead give certificates of election to those candidates who came second who ran as candidates from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), whose members are affected by the decision, called it “lawlessness.”

“The electoral council has become an engineered political conspiracy,” the HDP said on its Twitter page. “YSK is now effectively a tool for AKP’s coup against people’s will.”

It was YSK that permitted them to run in the nationwide local elections on March 31 in the first place.

Erdogan’s decrees that have so far expelled over 160,000 people from state institutions, including the army, police, judiciary, ministries of education, health, culture, and religious affairs, since the mid-2016 military coup attempt against him, bar those dismissed from being employed in “the civil service, or governmental bodies” ever again.

YSK justified its decision on those grounds, the state media reported.

According to HDP, the mayors-elect in Diyarbakir province’s central Baglar, Siirt city center, the districts of Tusba, Edremit, and Caldiran of Van, Tekman of Erzurum, and Dagpinar of Kars will now be replaced by the AKP candidate who came second.

In Baglar, a population center of over 350,000 people, HDP’s Zeyyat Ceylan got 70.34 percent of votes whereas his nearest rival AKP’s Huseyin Beyoglu, who is now shown by state authorities as the next mayor, managed to receive 25.46 percent.

Ceylan was a teacher before a decree by the president expelled him from employment and banned him from teaching.

HDP has won 70 municipalities, including three metropolitan ones with a population of over one million, mostly in the Kurdish region, according to unofficial results by the YSK.

Of that 70 mayors-elect, no one has received their certificates.

The HDP previously held 103 municipalities until the Turkish government began dismissing and jailing elected mayors to replace them with bureaucrats in the aftermath of the failed coup.

President Erdogan vowed not to let HDP mayors reclaim local administrations late last year and promised to take swift action if they win.

“Think of a country where you are free to run in elections but banned from winning. A condition not applied before entering the race cannot be valid after the race is over. Otherwise, it is arbitrary treatment,” Muharrem Ince of the secularist, main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP), who was a rival to Erdogan in last year’s presidential elections, wrote on Twitter.

“Countries [where arbitrary law is applied] are called banana republic.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany