Opposition CHP claims gov’t unlawfully removing officials from office

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) has accused Turkey’s ruling party of unlawfully removing its members from municipal offices, news website Diken reported on Tuesday.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is confiscating CHP municipalities they could not win through elections, it quoted CHP spokesman Faik Öztrak as saying, referring to the local elections of March last year.

Öztrak’s statement follows the removal of Vefa Salman, mayor of the northwestern province of Yalova, and his deputy, Halit Güleç, from office by the Interior Ministry on Feb. 27 as part of a corruption probe. They were both charged with aggravated fraud, forgery of official documents, corruption and other criminal conducts, according to the related legislation.

The ministry had said inspectors found that the municipality's incomes were being transferred to an account normally used to collect taxes and fees, and that payments worth 11.5 million lira ($1.85 million) were made to unknown people.

 “It wasn’t enough that they [the AKP] removed through the order of the Interior Ministry our mayor in Yalova for unveiling corruption. They then ensured the election of an AKP deputy chairman on the Yalova city council,’’ Öztrak said.

“They have seized the will of the people in Yalova,’’ he added.