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HDP ministers resign from Turkey's transitional government

Ministers complained of 'war-oriented' and 'authoritarian' government policies
The HDP's Ali Haydar Konca and Muslum Dogan (AA)

Two ministers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) have resigned from Turkey’s interim government.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday accepted the resignations of EU Affairs Minister Ali Haydar Konca and Development Minister Muslum Dogan, according to Anadolu Agency.

A spokesperson for the HDP told Middle East Eye that the resignation was due to the “war-oriented” and “authoritarian” policies of the incumbent Justice and Development party (AKP) and the government’s lack of independence from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to CNN Turk, the resignations come due to anger at the  government’s failure to stop violence in the country’s restive southeast, where hundreds have died in clashes between the Turkish security forces and Kurdish activists.

Davutoglu named their replacements on Tuesday. 

Entering parliament after June’s parliamentary elections, Konca and Dogan were the first Kurdish MPs to ever join a Turkish government, albeit a transitional one.

Their resignation leaves power in the hands of the AKP, with the exception of acting deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Turkes, a Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) MP who broke ranks with the party in order to join the government.

The Turkish government has been involved in bombing the bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq, who it blames for numerous killings of security officials in Turkey’s southeast.

The Turkish military claims to have killed more than 1,196 PKK fighters in the airstrikes, though the group has heavily disputed the number.

More than 150 security officials have been killed by Kurdish and left-wing militants since July, primarily by members of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), the PKK’s youth wing.

Attacks on HDP offices continue

The resignation of the two ministers comes as regional offices of the HDP continue to come under attack from Turkish far-right activists.

On Monday evening, the HDP office in the town of Derecik in Hakkari province was set on fire, leaving much of the building heavily damaged, according to the PKK-linked Firat News Agency (ANF).

“Our party building was set on fire by AKP branch administrators who threatened our party at a meeting 10 days ago, and the mayor of the town from the AKP,” HDP Derecik branch co-chair Cabbar Taş alleged.

ANF also reported that four HDP executives had been arrested in a raid in the Edremit district of Van.

Though the HDP officially operates independently of the PKK - with the group repeatedly calling for a ceasefire on both sides - many politicians and activists have claimed that there is no real distinction.

Erdogan provoked controversy after appearing to conflate the HDP and PKK in a speech at an “anti-terrorism” rally at the weekend, while claiming there was “no longer” a Kurdish problem in the country.

“No matter which party they are from, I want you to send 550 local and national deputies to parliament on November 1,” he told supporters.

“We have arrived at a point where we can say there is no longer a Kurdish issue in Turkey; the current issue is a terror problem.”

HDP president Ayhan Bilgen slammed Erdogan’s remarks on Monday, calling them “irresponsible”.

“If Turkey doesn’t have a Kurdish issue, then only one thing remains: There is the problem of an irresponsible president and an unauthorised prime minister,” he told reporters.