Kurdish groups score big in Turkish vote

March 30, 2009 at 4:56 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, March 30 (UPI) -- A political party associated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party won the municipal elections in southeast Turkey, sparking a potential political row.

Candidates with the Democratic Society Party, or DTP, won major concessions in the Kurdish regions in southeastern Turkey during the weekend. Osman Baydemir, who won re-election in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, called the region "our castle" after claiming 66.5 percent of returns at the polls.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed back, saying his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, would "take that castle."

In the 2007 general elections, AKP trounced the DTP in the Kurdish areas. The AKP candidate for mayor of Diyarbakir, Kutbettin Arzu, won just over 30 percent of the vote during the weekend, Turkey's Hurriyet news agency reports.

The report said some consider DTP to be the political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

DTP supporters thronged to the streets in the wake of the victory, chanting slogans for imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, saying, "The PKK is the people, and the people are here!"

Ocalan has been in Turkish custody since 1999. The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by several nations because of its guerrilla activity in the region.

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