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Jailed ex-leader of pro-Kurdish party to run for Turkish presidency

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party announces its former leader Selahattin Demirtas as its candidate for the country’s June presidential elections, despite the fact that he is currently jailed and on trial in several legal cases.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said the campaign of Demirtas would be launched in simultaneous rallies in Istanbul and the Kurdish-populated city of Diyarbakir on Friday afternoon.

Turkey will hold snap presidential and parliamentary elections in the country on June 24, previously slated to be held next year. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started campaigning for his re-election on Saturday, saying he would certainly win the vote.

Demirtas, 45, was a candidate against Erdogan in the August 2014 presidential elections and led the HDP into parliament for the first time in the June 2015 vote.

The politician was arrested in November 2016 in a crackdown that followed the July coup attempt and put on trial in several cases, especially on charges of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish prosecutors have called for an imprisonment term of up to 142 years for him.

In February, the HDP replaced Demirtas as its co-leader after he indicated his political career was over while in custody.

It was not immediately clear what caused him to change his opinion and how he can register as a candidate while in prison.

The new co-leaders of the party, Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli, called on supporters to come out on Friday and celebrate the campaign launch.

“We are coming together to share our joy in Selahattin Demirtas’ candidacy for president,” they said in a statement, adding, “We can already see a bright future.”

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