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HDP Says Respects Demirtas’ Decision to Step Down As Chair

Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of People’s Democracy Party (HDP), has announced his resignation and said would not run for another term in the upcoming elections for the party chairmanship, citing his detention.

In a statement released at the weekend, HDP, which is struggling to deal with prison sentences given to a number¬†of lawmakers last week, said it viewed Mr. Demirtas’s decision with sadness, but respects it.

The turmoil engulfed the party after the imprisonment of a dozen of its lawmakers reached a boiling point last week when courts began to deliver prison sentences to HDP lawmakers. Idris Baluken was sentenced to 16 years and eight months in prison, while others received different terms of prison sentences.

The crackdown on the party in the aftermath of the 2016 coup has accelerated. It faces a new overhaul of leadership in a new party congress. It plans to draw a roadmap to face the challenges, to defend political prisoners and to find a political solution to the Kurdish conflict which claimed lives of more than 40,000 in the past four years.

Mr. Demirtas was rose to the national fame after he cruised his party to Parliament in June 2015 elections in an upset win, bypassing the country’s notoriously high 10 percent election threshold. His unexpected success blunted then President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push for the executive presidency.

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