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Nationalist politician claims PKK leader sought to prevent HDP abuse of İstanbul vote

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Devlet Bahçeli, the chairman of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has claimed that a recent letter from the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) that urged them to remain impartial in the upcoming mayoral election in İstanbul was aimed at preventing the HDP from abusing the vote.

A repeat mayoral election will be held in İstanbul on Sunday. The votes of HDP supporters will play a crucial role in determining the winner, either the Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yıldırım or the Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu.

On Thursday academic Ali Kemal Özcan shared a letter with the public from PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, whom he visited on İmralı Island, where Öcalan has been jailed since 1999.

In the letter Öcalan called on the HDP to remain impartial during Sunday’s vote although the HDP had previously announced it would support İmamoğlu.

Commenting on Öcalan’s call, Bahçeli said, “The terrorist leader in İmralı made a call of neutrality in order to intervene in the HDP’s abuse of the election.”

The MHP was the election partner of the AKP in the March 31 local elections and supports the AKP candidate in İstanbul.

İmamoğlu was elected İstanbul mayor in the March 31 polls, taking control of Turkey’s financial powerhouse after 25 years of rule by Erdoğan’s AKP and its predecessors. His term as mayor lasted only 18 days as the Supreme Election Board (YSK) annulled the results of the vote over an appeal filed by the AKP claiming irregularities in the election.

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