Istanbul mayor İmamoğlu set for Diyarbakır visit in September - BirGün

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the main opposition mayor of Istanbul, is scheduled to visit the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, one of three cities whose mayors were suspended over alleged terror links this week, left-wing daily BirGün reported on Thursday.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor İmamoğlu has been invited to act as a witness at the wedding ceremony of a CHP politician’s family member, BirGün said.

But the timing of the wedding means the leading opposition figure will be in the city of Diyarbakır shortly after criticising the government for removing its pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayor, Selçuk Mızraklı, on August 19.

İmamoğlu will attend the August 31 wedding ceremony in the south eastern province of Batman, but will stop in Diyarbakır during the return leg of his journey.

It is not currently known whether he will meet HDP politicians during the trip, BirGün said. However, Turkish news site Tarafsız reporte that İmamoğlu is planning to conduct several visits in the city.

Mızraklı, alongside the HDP mayors of Van and Mardin, was removed from his position on Monday, when Turkish authorities accused the mayors of using their positions to support the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has fought in Turkey for Kurdish self-rule since 1984.

The move triggered protests in the three cities and notes of alarm from observers including the European Union, which said the move had placed the Turkish government’s respect for democracy in question.

The Istanbul mayor joined the calls of protest with a statement strongly condemning the move, which he said had dealt a blow to the will of the people.

Each of the three mayors received significantly more than 50 percent of the vote in their respective cities, and all three were approved to run in the election by the Supreme Election Council, Turkey’s highest authority on elections.

İmamoğlu dealt a stunning blow to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) this year, winning the country’s largest city and financial powerhouse in the March 31 local election and then in a rerun held on June 23 after the AKP appealed against the first vote alleging that fraud had taken place.

The HDP refrained from running a candidate in the Istanbul mayoral race, and openly declared its support for İmamoğlu before the June vote.