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Justice minister says lifting visitation ban for PKK leader unrelated to İstanbul election re-run

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Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül on Friday said lifting the visitation ban on the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was not related to a re-run of the İstanbul mayoral election and did not indicate new peace talks with the terrorist group, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Gül on May 16 announced that the ban preventing PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan from meeting with his lawyers had been lifted, a move that was interpreted as a ruling party strategy to appeal Kurdish voters for the İstanbul election re-run in June.

Kurdish support was crucial to the opposition’s win in March’s local elections in İstanbul.

Some observers also saw the revocation of the ban as a sign of a revitalization of the peace talks with the terrorist group.

The peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the PKK started in 2011 and ended in 2015 when the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) surpassed the 10 percent election threshold and entered the Turkish parliament.

The PKK has been waging an insurgency for decades in Turkey’s southeastern region.

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