Turkey denies the newly elected pro-Kurdish president from holding office

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Photo: Associated Press

Turkey's electoral authorities on Tuesday denied a newly elected pro-Kurdish party mayor the right to hold office in an eastern city and replaced him with the runner-up in local elections — a candidate from Turkish President Recep Tayyip's party. Erdogan, reports the "AP" agency. 

Sunday's local elections were a heavy blow to Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party. 

The main opposition party has recaptured Istanbul and the capital Ankara and made major advances in other cities, while the pro-Kurdish Equality and Democracy party, or DEM, won several municipalities in Turkey in predominantly Kurdish-dominated regions, despite years of repression and thousands of political activists arrested. 

The decision to hand over the mandate to Abdullah Zeydani, of the DEM party, after he won the right to govern the eastern city of Van, sparked backlash and protests on Tuesday. Police used tear gas to disperse protesters in Van. DEM has said that it will appeal the decision.
The main opposition party, the center-left, People's Republican Party (CHP) has also condemned this move. 

In reasoning for taking office, electoral authorities have cited a recent court ruling that says a politician who has spent time in prison cannot run a city. 
Zeydan won 55 percent of the vote in Van's election on Sunday. The candidate who finished second in these elections, Abdullah Arvas from Erdogan's party, received only 27 percent.

Besides Van, DEM has won municipalities in nine mainly Kurdish provinces in southeastern Turkey.