HDP elects new co-chair to replace jailed predecessor

HDP elects new co-chair to replace jailed predecessor

HDP elects new co-chair to replace jailed predecessor Serpil Kemalbay, who has been serving as acting co-chair since March 12, was elected as Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP’s new co-chair on May 20, Doğan News Agency has reported. 

HDP held 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. 

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 was also read out at the gathering.

Demirtaş called for the HDP to prepare "a plan to fight for democracy and peace" in the face of a "political purge". 

"We are experiencing the virtual shutdown of all democratic political channels," he said in a statement read out at the congress to applause from delegates.

"But whatever happens ... the HDP will not abandon democratic politics, it will insist on non-violent methods to find a solution to political problems," he said.