The Ministry of Interior Affairs announced on Friday that the mayor of İstanbul’s Ataşehir district from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has been dismissed from his post over corruption allegations.
Mayor Battal İlgezdi was removed based on an investigation into him by inspectors, according to the official statement.
Following the decision, a group of İlgezdi’s supporters gathered outside the municipal building to protest the decision.
Reacting to the decision, İlgezdi issued a statement denying the charges of destroying critical documents over allegations of corruption. He urged the authorities to hold him accountable, adding that the government has strong control over the media and the judiciary. “The rule of law has collapsed, and this is a political process,” İlgezdi also pointed out amid debates over judicial independence in Turkey.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been removing local mayors, particularly in the Kurdish-populated southeastern region, especially since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Several elected Kurdish mayors were replaced by government appointees under an ongoing state of emergency.
Even though İlgezdi has been removed due to allegations of corruption, the AKP government and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have been under fire for having swept corruption charges against their government under the rug. The government’s decision to target only opposition mayors is considered a double standard by many critics.
İlgezdi’s wife, Gamze İlgezdi, is a deputy from the CHP who is among the few politicians in Turkey raising concerns about infants being victimized in a purge that is being carried out by Erdoğan.