Political crisis in Turkey over candidates for parliamentary polls
Apr 20, 2011, 14:17 GMT
Istanbul - A leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party cancelled a meeting Wednesday with President Abdullah Gul over the issue of Kurdish candidates' eligibility to run in upcoming national elections, saying police had shot dead a protester in his district.
Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and member of parliament for the city of Diyarbakir, had been scheduled to meet with Gul at the presidential palace in Ankara.
'Police fired on protesters in Bismil today and one person was killed. Because of this incident, I will not appear at the presidential palace. I will describe the savagery here to President Gul by phone,' Demirtas told private broadcaster CNNTurk.
Bismil is a district in the largely Kurdish south-eastern city of Diyarbakir.
A political crisis erupted Monday after the Supreme Board of Elections ruled that a dozen mostly Kurdish politicians were ineligible to run in parliamentary elections in June due to prior convictions on terrorism-related charges.
Seven of the banned candidates were supported by the BDP, Turkey's largest legal Kurdish political party, but had registered as independents to get around a 10 percent threshold required for parties to enter parliament.
They include well-known Kurdish rights activist Leyla Zana as well as two current members of parliament.
The BDP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are competing heavily for votes in south-east, where the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has been engaged in a three-decade- long insurgency that has led to the deaths of 40,000 people.
Thousands of people took part in demonstrations in Istanbul and cities in Kurdish areas on Tuesday in protest at the election board's decision.
Protests began peacefully but later turned violent, with protesters throwing stones and molotov cocktails at police, who dispersed them with pepper spray, tear gas and pressurized water.
In an apparently related development, Cagla Aktemur Ozyavuz, an AKP deputy representing the south-eastern city of Sanliurfa, resigned from the ruling party Wednesday, saying circumstances deemed it necessary.
Earlier in the day, a court in Ankara ruled that Zana and another of the banned politicians, Hatip Dicle, should be allowed to run for office because they had completed their prison sentences.
It was not clear if the board of elections would reconsider its decision.
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