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İYİ Party’s Akşener calls for Demirtaş’s release during presidential campaign

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İYİ (Good) Party presidential candidate Meral Akşener on Tuesday called for the release from prison of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) former leader Selahattin Demirtaş, during a meeting with foreign media representatives in Ankara, Deutsche Welle reported.

“Mr. Demirtaş is a defendant. He has not yet been sentenced. A politician under pretrial detention who has been declared a presidential candidate by the Supreme Election Board… How will Turkey explain this? Of course, I would like to see all presidential candidates campaign under equal conditions,” Akşener said.

Akşener, who is considered an ultranationalist due to her job as interior minister in the 1990s, when the Kurdish opposition was heavily oppressed by the state, also denied the claim that Kurds would not vote for her if she competes against incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a second round of voting in the presidential election slated for June 24. She gave examples of her visits to the southeastern part of Turkey, stressing the warm welcome she received.

When asked about the HDP’s exclusion from their alliance with the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Felicity Party (SP), Akşener argued that the HDP would have hesitated because of its voters. She said she looked favorably on the teaching of Kurdish in private courses but hesitated to accept Kurdish as an official language.

She described herself as the only woman still active in Turkish politics from 24 years ago while promising a solid stance against election fraud in the upcoming elections on June 24.

“Mr. Erdoğan picks his own fights. He contains his rivals and does what is necessary. I do not fit his type of rival due to my gender, experience and age. Erdoğan’s ego won’t let him compete with a woman. He fears losing to a woman, he might even lose his mind,” Akşener explained after a reporter stressed that Erdoğan has never argued against the İYİ Party.

She said later on that the İYİ Party is not against immigrants while blaming the current government for the intensifying war in Syria. Akşener on Monday had vowed to break the fast for the next Ramadan in Syria, implying that Syrian immigrants in Turkey would be sent back home, at a press conference to unveil her party’s election manifesto.

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