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Far-right leader slams top court for extending proceedings on HDP closure

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A far-right Turkish party leader has accused the Constitutional Court of “lending support to terrorism” for considering a request by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) that the court conclude its closure case after elections, local media reported on Tuesday.

Turkey’s top prosecutor filed a case against the HDP, the second-largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, in March 2021, accusing it of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The party’s Law and Human Rights Commission asked in its petition to the court to delay all proceedings regarding the party’s closure until after the scheduled election date.

The criticism of Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and an election ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, regarding the court’s decision to consider the HDP’s request came during his party’s group meeting on Tuesday.

“What is there to discuss? … The HDP should be closed, and without wasting any time. … The Constitutional Court’s attempt to run down the clock [so the HDP can enter the 2023 elections] is lending support to terrorism,” Bahçeli said, referring to this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

Bekir Şahin, the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, earlier this month made his final case at the Constitutional Court, which will make a decision on the closure of the party.

The Constitutional Court has the option of dissolving the party or banning some of its members from politics if it rules against the HDP.

The party will have a month to prepare its defense before the court convenes for consideration of the case.

The 15-member panel needs a two-thirds majority to approve a political ban.

The HDP said it expected the case to conclude “in the coming months, before the elections.”

The chief prosecutor said the verdict’s timing was “at the Constitutional Court’s discretion.”

Erdoğan and Bahçeli have repeatedly accused the HDP of ties to the PKK.

The HDP, which has 56 seats in the 579-member parliament, denies any links to the outlawed group.

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