Turkey's pro-Kurdish party calls for opposition unity after split

March 05, 2023 12:46 AM AEDT | By Reuters
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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party called on the opposition to unite on Saturday, a day after a separate six-party alliance aiming to defeat President Tayyip Erdogan splintered over who should run for president in May elections.

"We call on all social and political opposition to unite around the goals of democracy, justice and freedom in order to raise hope," co-leader Mithat Sancar said after an extraordinary meeting of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) senior ranks.

In a shock move on Friday seen to boost Erdogan's re-election prospects, the centre-right nationalist IYI Party quit the largest opposition bloc, the Nation Alliance, over the other five parties' choice of presidential candidate.

The third-biggest party with 12% support nationally, the HDP is not part of the alliance. But in 2019 its mainly Kurdish supporters helped the alliance win upset mayoral elections in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities.

Polls conducted before the IYI defection suggested that HDP voters would need to back the Nation Alliance in order to unseat Erdogan and win over a majority in parliament from his ruling AK Party and its nationalist allies the MHP.

Sancar said HDP, which is allied with smaller leftist parties, is still reconsidering a previous decision to field a presidential candidate.

For years, HDP has faced a government crackdown and possible ban over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which it denies. In January a court froze its bank accounts, cutting its financial lifeline before the vote expected on May 14.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Ankara and its NATO allies, has waged an insurgency in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey since 1984 in which over 40,000 people have been killed.

(Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)


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