Leyla Zana back on political stage in local elections

Leyla Zana back on political stage in local elections

Leyla Zana

November 08, 2008, Saturday/ 18:41:00
A former deputy of the now-defunct Democracy Party (DEP), Leyla Zana, is back in politics after a 14-year-long break. Zana will run in the upcoming local elections as a Democratic Society Party (DTP) candidate in Batman.
In addition to Zana, former DEP figure Hatip Dicle will run in Diyarbakır and Selim Sadak will contest the vote in Van. The DTP will announce its candidates over the coming days.

Zana, a symbolic name of ethnic politics in the past, is getting back on the political stage. Zana, who married Mehdi Zana, the mayor of Diyarbakır at the time, stoked political tensions when she attempted to take her oath in the Kurdish language at Parliament when she was elected as a DEP deputy.

Zana, who was jailed along with fellow party members Orhan Doğan, Dicle and Sadak in 1994, was released in June 2004. Zana has stayed away from politics since her release because a ban was imposed on her involvement in political activities. The DTP administration reportedly persuaded Zana to run in Batman. Doğan, the other one of the four well-known DEP figures, died two years ago.

The DTP Electoral Commission still holds talks with well-known figures. Dicle was first offered a nomination for Van; however, Dicle stressed he would not accept any offer other than nomination for Diyarbakır. In view of his objection, the party administration considered nominating the current mayor of Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir in Van and Dicle in Diyarbakır. But Baydemir is reportedly opposing this arrangement. Executives of the DTP note that they want to see former DEP figures in local administrative posts, but add that there has been no final decision made on this matter yet.

In an attempt to capitalize on the extensive popularity of former DEP figures, DTP leaders want to nominate them in local elections and so have also inquired about the legal status of Zana, Dicle and Sadak, who were unable to run in the July 22, 2007 elections because of their ongoing ban from politics. However, the party administration notes that they are banned from politics only while they are in prison under the new Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), adding they believed that there remained no obstacle to the former DEP figures re-entering politics. To clarify their status, the three DEP members will inquire as to their status with the Supreme Election Board (YSK).

The DTP had 54 local administrative posts in the 2004 local elections where its candidates ran on the Social Democratic People's Party (SHP) list. Major municipalities under the DTP's control include Diyarbakır, Tunceli, Hakkari, Batman and Şırnak.

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