Turkish authorities remove Kurdish governor-elect as ruling party reels from polls setback

Street protests rock eastern city of Van after Abdullah Zeydan's election win was revoked

Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party protest after its candidate in Sunday's municipal elections in the city of Van was ruled ineligible. AFP
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Turkish authorities have removed a newly elected Kurdish governor, after setbacks for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Sunday’s local elections.

Abdullah Zeydan, from the Kurdish Equality and Democracy Party (DEM), won 55 per cent of the vote in the eastern city of Van, beating AKP challenger Abdullah Arvas, who secured 27 per cent of the vote.

But overnight on Tuesday, police vehicles were on the streets amid protests in the city, as it emerged that Mr Zeydan’s mandate had been revoked. Mr Arvas will now take the seat.

The vote was viewed as a key test of Mr Erdogan’s waning popularity amid a continuing economic crisis. The AKP lost control of Ankara and failed to unseat Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Mr Erdogan conceded the defeat on Sunday amid fears by some in the opposition that he would not respect the result, following crackdowns on opposition groups, including Kurdish politicians and the CHP, the main opposition party.

Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse demonstrators on Tuesday night while the DEM said it would seek to appeal against the decision.

In addition to Van, the DEM won control of the municipalities of nine provinces in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south-east.

In recent years, Mr Erdogan’s government removed elected pro-Kurdish mayors from office over alleged links to Kurdish militants and replaced them with state-appointed trustees.

The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the main Kurdish opposition party, was banned and had its funds frozen by the government.

Updated: April 03, 2024, 6:40 AM