Erdoğan: Öcalan’s letter indicates struggle between outlawed PKK leader, Demirtaş
Jailed outlawed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s call for the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) voters to remain “neutral” in the upcoming Istanbul re-election shows a rivalry between Selahattin Demirtaş, the party’s jailed former co-chair, and Öcalan, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“There is a power struggle here… Öcalan gives a message to Demirtaş and the mountain [the PKK base on Mount Qandil in Iraq] in a leadership struggle,” he told a private broadcaster late June 20.
Erdoğan said the rivalry between the HDP and the PKK was turning into a power struggle between Öcalan and Demirtaş.
A part within the PKK “supports” the candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Ekrem İmamoğlu, for the Istanbul municipal elections, the president said.
He stressed the People’s Alliance, between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has “nothing to do with any of these.”
Erdoğan underlined that his party’s People’s Alliance with the MHP is not interested in Öcalan’s message.
“So far there is no such message. We are looking at this process with the People’s Alliance that we established with the MHP. Everybody knows that this kind of support cannot come about. There is a leadership struggle here, which Öcalan gives a message about to the mountain [the PKK] and to Demirtaş,” he said.
From his prison cell on an island south of Istanbul, Öcalan called on the HDP to remain neutral in this weekend’s Istanbul re-run election in a statement released on June 20, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
“The democratic alliance approach of the HDP should not be made a part of the current election discussions. The importance of the democratic alliance is that it...insists on its neutral position in the elections,” he wrote. He did not say whether HDP supporters should or not vote on June 23 but called on the HDP to stick to the policy of negotiations for the resolution of the Kurdish question.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
Meanwhile, another statement came from Öcalan’s lawyers, confirming the letter.
“While Öcalan stated that the alliance of democracy should not be partial or a tool to dilemmas, he expressed that the HDP should protect this by a third way,” Asrın Law Firm said in a press release on June 21.
“When Öcalan was saying the HDP’s approach to the alliance of democracy should not be partial, he meant that a public rapprochement is needed,” the statement said.
The HDP co-leaders on June 21 said in a written statement that Öcalan’s message complies with the party's strategy of not being part in “polarization” in the elections and that Erdoğan was seeking to pit the HDP and Öcalan against each other in a "desperate" move.
Meanwhile, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said Öcalan’s message aims to prevent the HDP “abusing” the political landscape in Turkey. He said the CHP and HDP had agreed to cooperate in the local elections in Istanbul.