The Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will hold an extraordinary congress on May 20 to fulfill its legal procedures and elect a new co-chair to replace the jailed Figen Yüksekdağ, who lost her parliament seat in February and party membership in March after being sentenced to 10 months in jail on terror-related charges.
Serpil Kemalbay, who has been serving as acting co-chair since March 12, is thought to be the top candidate to be nominated as the HDP’s new co-chair.
HDP lawmakers Filiz Kerestecioğlu and Meral Danış Beştaş, as well as Socialist Party of Refoundation (SYKP) co-chair Tülay Hatimoğulları are also thought to be among the potential nominees.
According to the party’s internal rules, if one of the co-chairs is unable to perform their duties for any reason, first an acting leader is appointed to act in their place and then within 45 days after the appointment the party must hold an extraordinary congress to choose a new co-leader.
Yüksekdağ lost her seat in parliament in February 2017 after being convicted on terrorism charges. The decision came after the Supreme Court of Appeals approved a lower court decision finding her guilty of making “terror propaganda” on Nov. 27, 2013.
Along with Yüksekdağ, fellow HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and eight other deputies are currently under arrest. A message from Demirtaş will be read out at the gathering, which will be closed to non-party members as it is being mandatorily convened according to party regulations.
Stripping Yüksekdağ of her seat in parliament is against the constitution and relevant legal precedents, HDP deputy co-chair Meral Danış Beştaş has stressed.
The party has made the necessary appeals to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the decision, Beştaş told daily Hürriyet.