Kilicdaroglu’s agreement with ultranationalist leader on trustee regime stirs debate

Kilicdaroglu’s agreement with ultranationalist leader on trustee regime stirs debate
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A controversy arose in Turkey when opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu reached an agreement with ultranationalist leader Umit Ozdag that included a provision to maintain the "trustee" regime in local administrations.

A heated debate erupted among Turkey’s Kurds after a memorandum of understanding between ultranationalist Umit Ozdag and opposition’s joint candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu included an article about keeping the "trustee" regime in local administrations, which refers to the government's practice of appointing trustees to replace democratically elected officials in local municipalities, most of which are predominantly Kurdish.

The agreement, signed between Kilicdaroglu and Ozdag, contains the following regarding trustee regime:

"As part of the fight against terrorism, the practice of appointing state officials instead of locally elected administrators with proven legal connections to terrorism will continue within the framework of judicial decisions."

Kilicdaroglu previously has promised numerous times to end this practice, considering it a threat to democracy and the rule of law in Turkey.

A Joint Policies Agreement, signed by the six opposition parties of Nation Alliance also announced on January 30 that they will “put an end to the excessive central government dominance over local administrations and ensure that those who come through elections leave through elections, and put an end to trustee practices that ignore the right to vote and be elected in local governments.”

The three articles signed by the Nation Alliance are as follows:

• We will guarantee that elected officials cannot be dismissed from their positions without a judicial decision.

• We will also make it possible to temporarily suspend local administrators who are under investigation for offenses related to their duties only through a judicial decision.

• We will ensure that the replacement for a mayor who loses eligibility or is suspended from office is elected by the municipal council.

The agreement signed by Kilicdaroglu and Ozdag also states that the trustee provision would require a "judicial decision." However, contrary to the promises made by the Nation Alliance, the agreement stipulates that state officials would be appointed instead of the municipal council electing the new mayor.

The first statement from the pro-Kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) regarding the agreement came from Ferhat Encu, HDP’s Istanbul provincial co-chair.

Speaking to Duvar, Encu said, "We do not have a boycott decision. Nor can we... We will once again use our stance in favor of democracy, freedom, and change."