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Turkiye arrests pro-Kurdish mayor 2 months after election

June 3, 2024 at 9:55 am

A Turkish soldier stands on guard duty during the operation in the city of Hakkari, Turkiye on January 15, 2023. [Utku Uçrak – Anadolu Agency]

Police detained a pro-Kurdish party mayor in southeast Turkiye today over alleged militant links and he has been replaced by the state governor, the Ministry of the Interior said, two months after the mayor won power in local elections, Reuters reports.

After previous municipal elections, Turkiye detained pro-Kurdish mayors, removing virtually all from their posts to be replaced by state officials over charges of ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Mehmet Siddik Akis, mayor of Hakkari province bordering Iran and Iraq, was accused of having a high-level role in the PKK militant group, the ministry said in a statement on X.

A security source said police teams carried out a search at the Hakkari municipal building and kept out members of Akis’ pro-Kurdish DEM party, the third largest in Turkiye’s parliament.

Akis and his lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment but his party was set to hold a news conference regarding the situation. DEM has previously denied any association with the PKK.

“The government, which is defeated by the will of the people every time, has again resorted to the way it knows best: usurping [the people’s] will and conducting a coup,” DEM said in a statement about the mayor’s arrest.

In the 31 March local elections, DEM reaffirmed its regional strength, winning ten provinces in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

Turkish authorities accuse DEM and its pro-Kurdish predecessors of ties to the PKK, which is designated a terrorist group by Turkiyr, the United States and the European Union.

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