İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on Wednesday criticized the removal of elected Kurdish mayors through the appointment of trustees as a violation of the rule of law and democracy, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.
A guest speaker at a Council of Europe event held in Strasbourg, the opposition mayor said the government’s trustee appointments will only strengthen those with an anti-democratic agenda.
“One cannot speak of democracy or the rule of law if those who take office as a result of elections do not leave by subsequent elections,” İmamoğlu said.
“Removal of mayors, their replacement by appointees and the arrest of some of them are definitely in violation of the rule of law. The removals are also against the international agreements to which our country is party.”
“Whether mayor or politicians have broken the law or not is a decision that belongs to the courts, not the political power,” he also said, referring to the fact that trustee appointments are made by Turkey’s Interior Ministry.
The ministry has removed 13 Kurdish mayors since the local elections on March 31, citing alleged links to terrorism. The practice was also widely implemented during Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency following an attempted coup in 2016, with the removal of scores of Kurdish mayors many of whom also stood trial on terrorism-related charges after their ousting.