Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party elects new leaders

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition elects new co-presidents following a crackdown on the party for alleged terror links that led to the jailing of one of its leaders and hundreds of arrests.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party or HDP — the second-largest opposition party represented in the Turkish parliament — unanimously elects lawmaker Pervin Buldan and deputy co-chair Sezai Temelli amid heavy security in Ankara.

The new co-chairmen of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, Pervin Buldan, left, and Sezai Temelli, right, applaud outgoing co-chairwoman Serpil Kemalbay during HDP congress in Ankara, Turkey, February 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Buldan is picked to replace jailed HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, who has been behind bars since November 2016, pending trial on terror charges for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants. Prosecutors are seeking a 142-year prison sentence if he is convicted of leading a terror organization, engaging in terror propaganda and other crimes. Demirtas denies the accusations.

Demirtas, who ran against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey’s first direct presidential election in 2014 and led HDP to parliament in two general elections in 2015, said he would step down as co-chair and not stand for re-election.

— AP

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