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Pro-Kurdish party challenges election outcomes in eastern Turkey By Reuters

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Turkey’s pro-Kurdish DEM Party called on Tuesday for authorities to reverse a block on one of its mayors taking office after local elections, and said it was also challenging other results over what it called “illegal voters” that prevented it winning.

The challenges by DEM – parliament’s third largest party, which performed well in the mainly Kurdish southeast – mark the biggest dispute over the results of Sunday’s nationwide local vote in which President Tayyip Erdogan’s party was trounced.

Abdullah Zeydan, DEM candidate in the city of Van, won 55.5% of votes versus 27.2% for the candidate from Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP).

However, DEM said the justice ministry had sent a letter five minutes before offices closed on Friday last week, two days before the vote, objecting to Zeydan’s candidacy, and a court had then ruled that he did not have the right to stand.

A document by the Van election board, seen by Reuters, showed that the AKP second-place finisher would instead be handed the mandate to be mayor.

The ministry referred questions on the issue to the Supreme Election Board (YSK), which referred the issue to the election board office in Van, where nobody could be immediately contacted for comment.

“This wrong decision must be reversed immediately. This initiative, which disregards the will of the people of Van, is illegal,” DEM said in a statement.

Party co-chair Tulay Hatimogullari told reporters the DEM would file an objection to the election board on Wednesday.

AKP spokesperson Omer Celik said such challenges were judicial matters and the government could not intervene. “If it turns out that they are not legally right, they should respect the decision of the provincial election board,” he said.

The leader of the main opposition party CHP said handing the mayoralty to the second-place finisher “would mean disregarding the will of people of Van”.

The Turkish state has cracked down on the pro-Kurdish political movement since the 2015 collapse of a peace process to end a decades-old insurgency, accusing it of ties to Kurdish militants.

The movement denies the accusations but it has been ravaged by thousands of arrests and its mayors were ousted and replaced by state officials after previous elections. Last year DEM was formed to succeed a party facing potential closure in a trial over such alleged links.

CHALLENGES ELSEWHERE IN EAST

Separately in the southeast, a local election board annulled the election of a DEM mayor in a…

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