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Politicians in prison get election support in Turkey

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 4/10/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Turkey's pro-Kurdish party announced Sunday its independent nominees to run in the June 12 election, including six who are suspects in an ongoing trial.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party announced Sunday its independent nominees for the June 12 general election, including six candidates who are suspects in the ongoing trial of the illegal Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK.

The Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, will support 61 independent candidates in 39 provinces.

Political parties have until 5 p.m. Monday to submit their official lists of 550 deputy nominees for the election to the Supreme Election Board, or YSK.

The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has received more than 5,500 candidate nominations, the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, has received 4,200 applications, while nearly 2,400 people have applied to run from the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP.

According to the BDP’s list, party co-chairs Gültan Kışanak and Selahattin Demirtaş, who were expected to be nominated from Diyarbakır, will run from Siirt and Hakkari, respectively.

The list includes six KCK suspects, with Hatip Dicle running from Diyarbakır; Faysal Sarı from Şırnak; İbrahim Ayhan from Şanlıurfa; Kemal Aktaş from Van; Selma Irmak from Şırnak and Gülseren Yıldırım from Mardin.

The KCK is the alleged urban arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Emine Ayna and Leyla Zana, a former deputy from the now-defunct Democracy Party, or DEP, will be independent candidates from Diyarbakır. Former deputies of the now-closed Democratic Society Party, or DTP, Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk will run from Mardin.

The BDP is also running director and writer Sırrı Süreyya Önder and current deputy Sabahat Tuncel as candidates for Istanbul.

Other candidates include Şerafettin Elçi, Bengi Yıldız, Ayla Akat, journalist Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Sırrı Sakık, Akın Birdal and Hasip Kaplan. A surprising name on the list is Yüksel Avşar, a relative of the artist Hülya Avşar, who will run for Ardahan.

Speaking at a meeting in Diyarbakır where the candidates were announced, Demirtaş said the candidates were elected from among 400 nominees and that the party had held primary elections in 11 provinces. He added that 13 of the party’s 61 candidates are women and 36 of them are university graduates.

[HH] AKP and CHP finalizing lists

An 11-person commission led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been working at AKP headquarters to shape the ruling party’s final nominee list. The list was reduced over the weekend to 1,100 names from more than 5,500 applicants. Erdoğan will have the final say on who is included.

The prime minister reportedly plans to run some significant figures from the party, including Bülent Arınç and Abdülkadir Aksu for the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır or Şanlıurfa, both densely populated by Kurds, in an attempt to win Kurdish votes away from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP.

The party likewise plans to go to elections with strong candidates in the coastal regions, where support for the AKP is weak.

Former Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay’s name has been mentioned for the Mediterranean city of Antalya, hometown of former CHP leader Deniz Baykal, his probable opponent in the race.

Up to 70 percent of the CHP’s 101 current deputies are expected to be left off the main opposition’s election list. Former Secretary-General Önder Sav as well as Güldal Mumcu and veteran CHP member Hakkı Süya Okay are expected to run to represent Ankara, while journalist Mustafa Balbay, a jailed suspect in the Ergenekon case, is expected to run in the Aegean city of Aydın.

The CHP was set to hold its Party Assembly meeting at 5 p.m. Sunday to approve the nominees one by one. 

Political observers have said they expect most of the MHP deputies will maintain their place in the final list to be determined by party leader Devlet Bahçeli.

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