Istanbul mayor should be unseated if found guilty: MHP chair

Istanbul mayor should be unseated if found guilty: MHP chair

Istanbul mayor should be unseated if found guilty: MHP chair

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu should be removed from his job if found guilty, the head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has said, claiming Turkey’s largest city should not be “handed over to terrorist organizations.”

“He certainly should be removed from his office if he found guilty and the municipal assembly should elect a new mayor,” MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli said in an interview with the Türkgün daily on Dec. 30.

Bahçeli’s remarks follow the launch of an investigation into the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality over accusations that tens of thousands of people with terror links were recruited by İmamoğlu’s administration after he took office in mid-2019.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu have claimed that around 45,000 were recruited to the municipality during that period. İmamoğlu was elected as the joint candidate of the opposition parties and ended the ruling party’s more than 20-year rule in Istanbul.

Starting an investigation was the right thing to do, Bahçeli said, stressing it will be a “just move” to remove the officials from their office, including the mayor, should they be found guilty.

“If there is a crime, it should be punished. Istanbul will not be abandoned to terror organizations,” he stated, adding, “If these claims are true, that means the mayor has betrayed Istanbul. This betrayal cannot go unanswered.”

Recruiting people with terror links is a matter of national security, Bahçeli said. “For example, what are we going to do if these people lace Istanbul’s waters with poison? What will say? How will we able to overcome such a disaster?”

In the meantime, Soylu said a criminal complaint will be issued against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu who argued that the CHP mayors were being wiretapped by the security and intelligence services.