Selahattin Demirtas’ call for Kurdish autonomy has been condemned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “treason”.
Recep Tayip Erdogan said, referring to Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP): “What the co-leader has done is treason, provocation.”
At the weekend the HDP and other pro-Kurdish groups called for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south-east.
Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into those comments.
The Turkish military has stepped up operations against the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish self-rule. The army says it has killed more than 200 PKK militants in the latest fighting.
The PKK is regarded as a “terrorist” organization by Turkey, the US and EU.
The HDP won 59 seats in Turkey’s 550-seat parliament in the November 1 elections. It came third, behind Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Speaking on December 29, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Selahattin Demirtas and other Kurdish leaders would be “taught a lesson” by the people and the law.
He accused Selahattin Demirtas of challenging Article 14 of the constitution, which bans activities deemed to “violate the indivisible integrity of the state”.
On December 27, Selahattin Demirtas backed a declaration by a Kurdish umbrella group – the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) – which called for “autonomous regions” and “self-governance bodies”.
The declaration, issued in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, said the “rightful resistance” of Kurds against Turkish state policies “is essentially a demand and struggle for local self-governance and local democracy”.
It called for the “formation of autonomous regions, to involve several neighboring provinces in consideration of cultural, economic and geographic affinities”.
The PKK has been battling the Turkish military for three decades, in a separatist conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged political parties to “leave egos aside” and form a government as soon as possible.
It is the first time President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken publicly since his ruling AKP lost its parliamentary majority on June 7.
Speaking in the capital Ankara, the president said all sides must respect the election outcome “as the will of the people”.
The AKP is now likely to try to form a coalition, but no party has indicated it is willing to join forces with it.
Breaking his silence at a graduation ceremony for international students, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that history would judge anyone who left Turkey in political limbo.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We cannot leave Turkey without a government, without a head.”
He added that he hoped political parties would “prefer solution rather than crisis”.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would do his part in finding a solution and that nobody should doubt he will carry out his duties within the constitution.
The AKP secured 41% of the vote in Sunday’s election, a sharp drop compared to the 2011 vote.
The party has 45 days after the final official election results are declared to form a government – but that declaration is yet to happen.
If no coalition deal is reached, a fragile minority government and early elections loom.
Earlier, PM Ahmet Davutoglu said the AKP was open to all options but warned that history had shown coalition governments were not suitable for Turkey.
“We’ve used the coalition eras of the 1970s and 1990s as an example to show that coalitions are not suitable for Turkey and we still stand by that stance,” Ahmet Davutoglu told a meeting of AKP officials.
He added that in the “current political picture” the AKP were “the only party that can come up with realistic solutions”.
Ahmet Davutoglu resigned earlier this week after the AK Party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked him to stay on until a new government is formed.
Securing a working coalition will be tough, with opposition parties likely to demand limits on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s role.
In the build up to the election, the president had been seeking a two-thirds majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.
However, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) upset Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions by crossing the 10% threshold and securing seats in parliament for the first time.
On June 11, HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas said his party was open to working with other opposition parties but ruled out forming a coalition with the AKP.
“Pulling Turkey into early election debates right away will not help. We believe Turkey has to continue on its way by forming a coalition,” he told reporters in Ankara.
Selahattin Demirtas also said that the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, was ready to make a call for disarmament and that a peace process with the militants should soon move forward.
He said the HDP, which has played a central role in peace talks, had visited Abdullah Ocalan on the island prison of Imrali and would be applying to make another visit soon.
The peace process with Abdullah Ocalan was launched by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2012 in a bid to end a three-decade conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party AKP appears on course to lose its parliamentary majority after today’s general elections in Turkey, early projections suggest.
According to Turkish exit polls, the pro-Kurdish HDP is set to cross the 10% threshold, securing seats for the first time.
With 90% of the vote counted, the AKP had 42% of the vote, according to Turkish TV stations.
If confirmed, the result would end the AKP’s 13-year single-party rule, and upset President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to boost his office’s powers.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who first came to power as prime minister in 2003, has been seeking a two-thirds majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.
According to the TV projections, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party’s share of the vote would translate into 263 seats in the 550-seat parliament, followed by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) would get 11.6% – 75 seats.
An unnamed AKP official told Reuters news agency: “We expect a minority government and early election.”
Turkey’s PM Ahmet Davutoglu also said: “The people’s decision is the most correct decision.”
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas complained as he voted that the election campaign “was not a fair and equal race”. Four people died in an explosion at a party rally on June 5.
Selahattin Demirtas added: “Hopefully we will wake up to a new and freer Turkey on June 8.”
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the CHP, echoed Selahattin Demirtas and called the campaign period “unequal”. He promised however to “continue to work with a sense of responsibility”.
The result may have ramifications beyond Turkey’s borders.
Turkey is a vital NATO member in a volatile Middle East and a rare mix of Islam and democracy.
Turkey is voting in a general election which will determine whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, AKP, can change the constitution.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who first came to power as prime minister in 2003, is seeking a big enough majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.
However, the pro-Kurdish HDP may cross the 10% threshold and enter parliament.
Explosions at its election rally in Diyarbakir on June 5 killed four.
Officials said the blasts were caused by improvised bombs.
HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas criticized Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the killings.
If the left-wing HDP succeeds in winning seats in parliament for the first time, it would reduce the number of seats won by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP, thwarting its plans to change the constitution and transfer the prime minister’s executive powers to the president.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as prime minister until he won the presidential election in 2014.
A strong showing by the HDP might well deprive the ruling AKP of a parliamentary majority.
Sunday’s election is the biggest electoral challenge for the AKP since it came to power 13 years ago.
The result may also have ramifications beyond Turkey’s borders.
Turkey is a vital NATO member in a volatile Middle East and a rare mix of Islam and democracy.
Turkey’s first direct presidential election will be held on Sunday, August 10.
Candidate and current PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to hold his final rally in the central Anatolian city of Konya.
The post of president, previously chosen by parliament and largely ceremonial, is being put to a popular vote for the first time.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he wants to enhance presidential powers.
At his penultimate rally in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Friday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his supporters to “explode ballot boxes on Sunday and deal a democratic slap” to his political opponents.
Candidate and current PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to hold his final rally in the central Anatolian city of Konya (photo AP)
With the clock ticking down to the end of campaigning, his two rivals also reached out to voters on Friday.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu visited the town of Soma, which in May was the scene of Turkey’s worst ever mining disaster.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s handling of the tragedy, in which 301 miners were killed, was widely criticized and he has steered clear of the area during his campaign.
Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas held the biggest rally of his campaign in Turkey’s largest Kurdish city of Diyarbakir on Friday.
Tens of thousands of people waving Kurdish flags turned out to hear him speak.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, 71, is the joint candidate of the two main opposition parties, the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Selahattin Demirtas, 41, is a member of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party.
Correspondents say the election has become a referendum on Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist-rooted politician whose support base lies in Turkey’s conservative, pious heartland.
The winner must get more than 50% of the vote.
If no candidate reaches this mark in the first round, a run-off will be held on August 24.
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