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Interior minister says city council candidates ‘linked to terrorism’ will be suspended if elected

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Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has announced that there are a total of 378 city council candidates running in the local elections to be held on March 31 who are linked to “terrorist” organizations and said they will be suspended from office if elected, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Monday.

Speaking on the TRT Haber news station on Monday evening, Soylu said it has been discovered that 378 candidates for city councils from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the İYİ (Good) Party and the Felicity Party (SP) are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group, the Gülen movement, called a “terrorist organization” by the Turkish government, radical leftist groups or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“They can’t serve as city council members or anything else. We will suspend all of them [if they get elected],” Soylu said.

Soylu’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan frequently accuse opposition candidates of having terrorist links, hinting that even if they are elected, they will be removed from office. The AKP removed hundreds of democratically elected mayors, mostly from the ranks of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and appointed trustees to replace them during a state of emergency that was declared in the aftermath of a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and remained in effect for two years.

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