The pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Monday withdrew its four provincial and district mayor candidates in the southeastern Şanlıurfa province to support the candidate of conservative-Islamist Felicity Party (SP) in the March 31 local elections.
"We want to increase the power and meaning of social opposition in order to strengthen the hope of the people of Şanlıurfa. We are announcing that our party will support Sabahattin Cevheri, who has received the support of Şanlıurfa," said the HDP's former Şanlıurfa mayoral candidate Hidayet Enmek as he was declaring his resignation along withthe HDP district mayor candidates of Karaköprü, Eyyübiye and Haliliye.
Enmek also told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they will not only support Sabahattin Cevheri, the provincial mayor candidate of SP but also other SP candidates in the districts of Şanlıurfa where other candidates of the pro-PKK HDP have resigned.
The HDP has been condemned for its close ties with the PKK and known for its support for autonomy in regions where large Kurdish populations live. Also, some of its members have been charged for or accused of having links to the terrorist organization PKK that has been fighting the Turkish state for more than 30 years and left more than 40,000 dead. Its former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, was arrested in November 2016 over terrorist propaganda.
Other opposition parties have been refraining from cooperating with HDP openly and often prefer to cooperate behind closed doors due to fears of a possible backlash from their secular-nationalist voter bases.