Demirtas says joint opposition candidate still possible "through negotiations with HDP"

Demirtas says joint opposition candidate still possible "through negotiations with HDP"
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Imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas said he favors a joint opposition candidate who represents all the opposition, including the Kurds.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish party should back the main opposition candidate instead of fielding its own candidate against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the May elections, imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas said in a written interview with AFP.

"I am in favor of supporting a joint candidate," Selahattin Demirtas said, but added: "At this stage, it seems more likely that the HDP (People's Democratic Party) will put forward its own candidate."

After months of disappointment at being expelled from the six opposition parties that make up the Nation Alliance, HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan recently announced that the party would field its own candidate in the presidential election.

Some of the six leaders are staunch nationalists and shy away from close association with the Kurdish cause.

But a " compromise with the HDP through negotiations" could still produce a joint candidate representing the entire Turkish opposition - including the Kurds, Demirtas said.

With 12 percent of the vote in the 2018 elections, the HDP's future could prove decisive in what promises to be a close race.

An alliance with the HDP helped the opposition win mayoral elections in Istanbul and Ankara in 2019, wresting Turkey's two largest cities from Erdogan's ruling party for the first time in 25 years.

Asked whether he expected an amnesty after the elections, Demirtas remained defiant:

"I do not expect forgiveness from anyone, certainly not from Erdogan," he said. "I am the one who should pardon Erdogan, he is the one who is guilty."