Gov’t-appointed trustee dissolves HDP-majority Van City Council

A girl flashes the victory sign as holding a flag bearing the logo of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as Turkish Kurds gather during Newroz celebrations for the new year in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, on March 21, 2018. Newroz (also known as Nawroz or Nowruz) is an ancient Persian festival, which is also celebrated by Kurdish people, marking the first day of spring, which falls on March 21. / AFP PHOTO / ILYAS AKENGIN

Mehmet Emin Bilmez, appointed by Turkey’s Interior Ministry as a trustee in place of the mayor of Van, who was removed by the government from office, ordered the dissolution of the city council on Wednesday, the Diken news website reported.

The Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had 44 delegates on the council, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had 27.

The duties of the council will be assumed by the municipal board, the report said.

The ministry removed the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van for alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US. The PKK has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast for more than three decades.

Meanwhile, nine employees of the Van Municipality were detained by police on Wednesday on allegations of terrorism.

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