CHP leader vows to win Istanbul despite mayor row
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has vowed to win Istanbul in upcoming local elections in 2019, in an open challenge against the government after the Interior Ministry’s rule to dismiss CHP’s Beşiktaş district mayor.
“Even if you take 14 of our [Istanbul district] mayors, we will win Istanbul. No matter what do you do, we will reveal all those who have betrayed Istanbul,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Jan. 5, addressing the crowd in front of the Beşiktaş Municipality building in Istanbul.
His comments came after CHP’s Beşiktaş district mayor Murat Hazinedar and two municipal council members, Avni Sipahi and Çetin Kırışgil were dismissed from their duties on Jan. 4 by the Turkish Interior Ministry.
The ministry said in a statement that Hazinedar was dismissed due to investigations that had been conducted into a property holding, for being a member of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)/Parallel State Structure (PDY), providing unlawful licenses to tradesmen, the use of public property for private individuals and for taking unfair advantages.
Denying the accusations, Kılıçdaroğlu said that the dismissal decision aims to mislead Turkey’s political agenda.
“They think they can change the agenda by dismissing the CHP’s mayor so that no one will speak about the high cost of living,” he said.
“The CHP would never refrain from any investigations. We believe it is an honor to give an account of our actions,” he added.
He stated that the accusations given for the grounds of the dismissal decision have already been investigated by the Interior Ministry in different investigations in April 2016 and September 2016. All of the accusations had been acquitted.
The Interior Ministry Local Administration Directorate ruled out the tender related accusations on April 8, 2016. Again for other tender corruption accusations, “The Interior Ministry Committee of Inspection ruled that none of the accusations were true” on Sep. 20, 2016.
“The issue had been appealed to the Council of State. They ruled that there had not been any misconduct in the tender. But you dismiss the mayor anyway,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“Eighteen months have passed. There have not been any further investigations. You have abolished the passports of the entire family but for 18 months there has been nothing. There are complaints and they say they will be accused,” he added.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended the Interior Ministry’s move to dismiss Hazinedar, arguing that there are complaints of bribery and misconduct.
“If the Interior Ministry is making a decision for dismissal, then it means there is a water leak here,” Erdoğan said on Jan. 5 at Ankara Airport before leaving for Paris, France.
The Interior Ministry had previously removed 93 Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors from duty over their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and eight mayors over reported connections to FETÖ, believed to have been behind the 2016 coup attempt. However, Hazinedar is the second CHP Mayor dismissed over corruption allegations.
On Dec. 8, 2017, Istanbul’s Ataşehir district mayor Battal İlgezdi was also suspended by the Interior Ministry, prompting debate over “special inspections” in the CHP-run municipalities of Beşiktaş and Şişli in Istanbul and the southwest province of Muğla.
“What happened in Ataşehir has also happened here,” Erdoğan said, arguing that there had been “complaints from businessmen and citizens over bribery,” but the people who have complained about alleged bribery have “refrained from confrontation” to protect their interests.
“How can we reveal those in misconduct if you refrain when we ask whether you are ready for any confrontation to catch them red-handed?” Erdoğan added.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also stated the dismissal is part of a judicial process and “it is normal that if there are wrongdoers, they will face the consequences within the framework of law.”
“Surely, those who serve the public, use public sources and who receive their authority from the public, have to look out for the public good when they serve and should use their authority properly,” Yıldırım said on Jan. 5, answering reporters’ questions after Friday prayers in Ankara.