HDP rally blast aims to overshadow Sunday's elections: President Erdoğan

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 05.06.2015 23:56
Updated 06.06.2015 12:06

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said that the explosions that took place at the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) rally in Turkey's southeastern province of Diyarbakır was aimed to overshadow Sunday's general elections.

Speaking in a TV interview aired on news channel A Haber, Erdoğan called on Turkish citizens to beware of provocations and to use their democratic right by going to polls on Sunday. Erdoğan offered condolences to the families of those who died at the rally and said his team was trying to reach HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş to offer him condolences as well.

During the A Haber interview, the president also touched upon the issue of the 10 percent election threshold, saying that if HDP passes the threshold, then it would be a "positive development" for Turkey and that everyone should respect democracy. But, if the party does not pass the threshold, then again that would be a manifestation of "national will", according to Erdoğan, which means people again should respect that result, the president said.

The president said, the AK Party was not the one who added the 10 percent threshold to the present electoral system, but also mentioning that Turkey gains "a lot" from this requirement in terms of stability and security. "If there were no 10 percent threshold, then Turkey would become a country of coalitions," he said during the interview.

Drawing attention to Italy's recent approval of a new electoral system to ban coalition governments, Erdoğan said that in Italy now, 40 percent of the total votes is enough for a single party to come to power, whereas in Turkey, there is reaction even if a party forms a single-party government with 50 percent of the votes.

The President's interview took place following the deadly attack at HDP's rally on Friday. Two people were killed and more than 100 others were injured in two blasts that took place near Istasyon Square of southeastern Diyarbakir province where the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was holding an election rally in the afternoon.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called the deadly explosions at an election rally of a pro-Kurdish opposition party an "open provocation" as it occurred two days before the country's parliamentary elections.

"Such an attack is nothing but an open provocation less then 48 hours before the election, a provocation targeting our democracy and Turkey's stability," Davutoğlu said at an election rally of his Justice and Development (AK) Party in the southern Kilis province Friday evening.

The prime minister highlighted that his ruling party had always displayed a principled stance against violence regardless of the identity of the perpetrators, the place and reason of such attacks.

"We will work day and night to turn [the perpetrators] over to the judicial authorities no matter who they are," he added.

He said that he had given the necessary orders to the interior minister and the Diyarbakir governor to investigate the nature of the blast to find out whether it was an accident, adding that they also take into account the possibility of a provocation ahead of elections Sunday.

"No matter who is behind, what is the reason, and against which party they are staged, we condemn all these assaults as they actually target democracy and the Republic of Turkey itself," he said.

Davutoğlu further called upon all Turkish political parties to take a firm stand against such violence.

"I invite all to be on alert, act prudently and with common sense. What matters is to peacefully go to the polls on Sunday," he added.

Earlier in the day, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız ruled out that the explosions had been caused by a roadside power grid as preliminary reports had earlier indicated.

"We have sent personnel from Dicle Electricity and Turkish Electricity Transmission Company to the blast site. After examination, it was notified clearly to me that the power grid did not cause the explosions," Yıldız told reporters in central Kayseri province.

HDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş also warned the locals against acting out in fury, saying: "Do not mind those who want to stir up your anger." The HDP is standing as a party for the first time in Turkey's general election, seeking to pass the 10 percent threshold that will allow it to gain seats in the Grand National Assembly.

The party currently has lawmakers who stood as independents in the 2011 election and joined the party after being elected.

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