President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday expressed support for the appointment of trustees to 28 municipalities, 24 of them run by pro-Kurdish parties, saying the step was overdue and should have been taken before.
“You cannot support terrorist organizations [in mayors’ offices] and municipal councils. Digging holes in the streets for terrorists is not your duty. They used state mechanisms for these kinds of activities. Not satisfied with that, they also transferred support that the state gave them to [PKK terrorists in the mountains],” said Erdoğan while answering reporters’ questions after Eid al-Adha prayers in İstanbul.
“I hope these 28 municipalities will be able to become model [cities] and supply services to the locals who weren’t receiving them.”
Turkey’s Interior Ministry appointed trustees to 28 local municipalities on Sunday, 24 of which were allegedly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while the other four were allegedly connected to the Gülen movement.
The government move has sparked an uproar across the Southeast as Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Figen Yüksekdağ described the move as a coup against the will of the people, calling for mass protests against the decision.
“The appointment of trustees is laying the groundwork for an internal war. This is a provocation. There is nothing left to talk about on this issue in terms of democracy and the law,” said HDP co-spokesman Ayhan Bilgen during a press conference on Sunday.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has also strongly criticized the government’s municipality move and signaled that it would take it to the Constitutional Court.
“This is political fraud. This is a blow to the will of Parliament stemming from a meeting at the presidential palace,” said CHP group deputy chairman Özgür Özel.
Rebuffing public criticism, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his government will continue its policy of appointing administrators to Kurdish-run municipalities.
“There will be more. When you give taxpayer money to a terrorist organization that kills our soldiers and police, then we intervene. Should we just let it happen?” the prime minister said.