President Erdoğan chairs cabinet, with Ağrı incident and electorate security on agenda
AA PhotoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chaired a cabinet meeting April 20 for the third time since he was elected president, with the Ağrı incident and electorate security at the top of the agenda.
Various issues concerning the fields of energy, foreign policy, regional developments and homeland security were on the agenda of the meeting, attended by Gendarmerie Command Gen. Abdullah Atay, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported, citing anonymous sources.
Atay’s participation in the meeting, which was ongoing when the Daily News went to press, is seen as related to the deadly April 11 clash in Ağrı. Soon after the clash, controversy erupted on the source of intelligence, which led to the tasking of security forces by the provincial gendarmerie command.
Five outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants were killed and four Turkish soldiers were injured in Ağrı on April 11, after PKK militants opened fire on security forces, the military said in a statement.
An Interior Ministry statement reiterated the government’s argument that PKK militants had been coercing voters in the region ahead of the June 7 election since April 4.
Following a tip-off saying PKK militants would come to a tree-planting event on April 11, gendarmerie units were tasked so “members of the separatist terrorist organization would be prevented from using armed propaganda aimed at citizens,” the ministerial statement said.
The PKK on April 13 denied that its militants had attacked first, while arguing only one civilian and one PKK militant were killed in the clashes.
“The government and the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] carried out a provocation in Ağrı hand-in-hand, in cooperation with each other,” Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ said on April 14.
Amid controversy over the clash, Turkey’s Interior Ministry released an “electorate security” circular on April 14, containing preventative measures for election day, which is extremely likely to flare tempers.
According to the circular, “security forces will check roads to ballot venues beforehand.” The authorities will not allow “evil-minded people or group assemblies… at certain venues where they put pressure, intimidation and resort to violence on our citizens, political party members, officers and voters.”
The number of security forces at nearby ballot box areas will be increased, while they will “preventive searches on suspect people,” on the day of election.