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Demirtas steps down as Turkey's Kurds ponder new strategy

Selahattin Demirtas plans to relinquish his post as co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party, as Ankara continues to repress political opposition.

The most charismatic politician to emerge in Turkey in a decade announced that he will be stepping down as co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), saying he will not seek re-election at the party congress scheduled for Feb. 11. Selahattin Demirtas, who has been held in jail for more than a year on a slew of alleged “terror” crimes, conveyed his resignation in a letter published by the party he has led since 2014.

Demirtas said he is stepping aside to enable the party to operate more effectively, which will remain a challenge with the government continuing its blanket repression of the opposition, in particular of pro-HDP Kurds. An HDP spokesman, Osman Baydemir, said around 10,000 HDP supporters, including scores of democratically elected mayors in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, had been arrested since last summer’s failed coup.

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