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Turkey’s Kurds celebrate new year, brace for election

The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party hopes the March 31 municipal elections will repudiate the government’s removal of its officials from local offices, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that he reserves the right to do so again.
People wave pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) flags during a gathering to celebrate Newroz, which marks the arrival of spring and the new year, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar - RC18FB2D9600

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s Kurds rang in their traditional new year on Thursday while bracing for a critical election this month that the region’s biggest party hopes will deliver a clear rebuke against the government’s crackdown on its political movement.

The leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), whose base is overwhelmingly Kurdish, is seeking to recapture control of cities across the predominately Kurdish southeast in the March 31 poll after the government removed 94 of its 102 mayors from their offices beginning in 2016 and replaced them with government-appointed “trustees.”

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