Pro-Kurdish lawmakers stage protest in Turkey’s parliament to denounce the ouster of a new mayor

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — More than a dozen legislators from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party staged a demonstration in parliament on Tuesday to denounce the arrest and expulsion from office of a newly elected mayor, Turkish media reported.

On Monday, authorities detained Mehmet Siddik Akis, mayor of Hakkari province, over alleged links to Kurdish militants and replaced him with the province’s state-appointed governor. Akis, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party, or DEM, had been elected in March.

The DEM, the third largest party in Turkey’s parliament, denies allegations of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is listed as a terror organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

In the past, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has similarly expelled numerous elected pro-Kurdish mayors over alleged connections to Kurdish militants and replaced them with government-appointed trustees.

DEM legislators, holding placards in support of Akis, gathered around the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s rostrum to denounce the mayor’s ouster, the Sozcu news channel reported. Dozens of people also staged a demonstration outside the Hakkari town hall, defying a ban on protests.

Ozgur Ozel, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, also criticized Akis’ expulsion as an act against the “will of the people of Hakkari.”

The DEM this year won key municipalities in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish-populated southeast.

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