Turkish supreme court unfreezes funds of major Kurdish party

Kurdish People’s Democratic Party is part of third-largest bloc in parliament

Co-leaders of the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar attend a news conference at party headquarters. Reuters
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Turkey’s supreme court has ordered the unfreezing of the bank account of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which had been accused by authorities of having ties to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) terror group.

The move could boost opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by freeing up election campaign funds worth nearly $30 million for the third-largest political bloc in the Turkish parliament.

Some in parliament have called for the complete banning of the party, which the supreme court will also rule on in the coming weeks or months.

The HDP, which has long been singled out by Mr Erdogan and his supporters as being sympathetic to militant Kurdish groups, has denied allegations it has ties to the PKK.

Winning 11.7 per cent of the vote in the 2018 parliamentary election, the HDP is not part of the main opposition alliance, the Republican People’s Party (CHP). But it has signalled it would support the bloc's candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the coming presidential election.

Mithat Sancar, co-leader of the HDP, said on Monday that the party's “clear expectation is a transition for a strong democracy”.

“If we can agree on fundamental principles, we may support him in presidential elections,” he said.

HDP supporters helped the opposition alliance in 2019 to defeat mayoral candidates from the ruling AKP in Istanbul, Ankara and other major cities.

Polls show Mr Erdogan could lose in a vote shaping up to the biggest test of his 20-year rule, especially if the HDP co-operates with the opposition alliance.

There was no immediate reaction from the HDP or government to the ruling about the bank accounts.

It is unclear when the court will deliver its final ruling on the request to ban the party outright.

Updated: March 09, 2023, 9:52 PM