Turkey’s Kurdish party calls for early election, rules out parliament withdrawal

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Turkey’s Kurdish opposition party on Wednesday called for an early election but ruled out withdrawing from parliament to protest the government’s dismissal of dozens of its mayors who were elected earlier this year, Reuters reported.

Authorities have removed 24 mayors of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) since August, mainly due to alleged links to terrorism, and appointed replacements to run their municipalities.

Several members of the HDP had called for the party to withdraw from the national parliament or from local assemblies which the party still holds.

The HDP said in a statement that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), were “stealing the will of the people” by appointing trustees.

“We say ‘early election’ for the people of Turkey to be rid of the AKP-MHP authority. This is a call for confrontation. We’re saying bring it on,” the party said.

“We call on all of the opposition to unite around this request for an early election and to take action,” it said, also appealing for a campaign of civil disobedience.

There was no immediate response from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) or the opposition nationalist İYİ (Good) Party. The HDP has previously complained about a lack of opposition solidarity.

The party ruled out withdrawing from parliament or local assemblies, saying it had paid a “heavy price” to achieve gains and “will not withdraw from any area of struggle.”

Erdoğan and his AKP accuse the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has led a separatist insurgency since 1984 in which some 40,000 people have been killed. The HDP denies any links to terrorism.

Hundreds of the HDP members, including its lawmakers and former co-leaders, have been put on trial on terrorism charges, and many of them have received prison sentences.

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