US Embassy expresses concern over replacement of elected officials in SE

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The US Embassy in Ankara on Saturday released a statement on its website expressing concern about clashes in Turkey’s Southeast following a government decision to remove elected officials from office and replace them with trustees, saying it hopes any appointment of trustees will be temporary and that citizens will soon be permitted to choose new local officials in accordance with the law.

The move had been announced in advance by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who stated in Ankara on Friday that 28 municipalities in the country’s eastern provinces that have links with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) would be terrorist-free municipalities within 15 days, and under a state of emergency decree issued on Sunday, the Turkish government removed 28 mayors in the predominantly in Kurdish regions of the country, replacing them with trustees.

Soylu’s announcement, seen by many as an intervention into the will of the predominantly Kurdish populace, was protested in Muş on Saturday.

Following the announcement of the decision to replace elected officials with trustees and the ensuing protests, the embassy said:

“The United States condemns terrorism and supports Turkey’s right to defend itself. As Turkish authorities investigate allegations that some local officials have participated in or provided material support to terrorist groups, we note the importance of respect for judicial due process and individual rights, including the right of peaceful political expression, as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution. We hope that any appointment of trustees will be temporary and that local citizens will soon be permitted to choose new local officials in accordance with Turkish law.”

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