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‘Don’t let those damn guys get elected in the Southeast’: AKP mayoral candidate

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Mehmet Özhaseki, a mayoral candidate from the ruling party in Turkey’s upcoming local elections, said Kurdish politicians from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) should be prevented from winning municipalities in the southeastern provinces, calling them “damn guys,” Gazete Duvar reported on Friday.

Özhaseki made the comments during a gathering of village headmen and civil society representatives in a town in Ankara province where he has been nominated for mayor by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“The point of this meeting is: We shouldn’t let those damn guys take office in the Southeast,” Özhaseki said in reference to HDP candidates.

Özhaseki took part in negotiations in which the governing party concluded an alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for the local elections slated for March 31.

In his speech at the event Özhaseki also mentioned some 100 municipalities in the Kurdish-dominated Southeast where the Interior Ministry removed elected HDP politicians and appointed trustees to replace them.

Özhaseki suggested that HDP mayors operated in the company of militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), echoing a frequently repeated government claim that the HDP is the PKK’s political branch.

Özhaseki also claimed that HDP mayors funneled municipal funds to the PKK by manipulating employees’ salaries and city development plans.

“Municipal vehicles turn out to be in the hands of PKK militants. What are we supposed to do, just watch?” Özhaseki said.

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