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Kurdish Presidential Candidate Calls on PKK to Lay Down Arms

Facing never-ending criticism for a perceived soft approach to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), former leader and presidential candidate of pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) called on the militant group to lay down arms to pave way for the revival of the frozen peace process.

Selahattin Demirtas, HDP’s jailed candidate, made his call from his prison cell in the western province of Edirne.

In a written answer read by Fox TV as part of an interview, Demirtas responded to the question whether “HDP cut its ties with PKK.”

“There is no organic relationship either between me and PKK, or HDP and PKK,” he said as Turkish journalists probe whether HDP has links to the outlawed group, which has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984.

Both Demirtas and a dozen of HDP lawmakers are jailed pending trial over charges of links to PKK and abetting the terrorist organization by disseminating its propaganda. The former co-chair of HDP vehemently denies the claims of prosecutors.

The HDP seeks to resolve the decades-old Kurdish conflict through parliamentary politics and call for a return to negotiations that came to an abrupt end after the collapse of truce between the Turkish security forces and PKK militants in 2015 summer.

The PKK insists on an armed solution to carve up an autonomous region for self-rule in southeastern Turkey.

Demirtas also offered self-criticism when the PKK dug trenches and brought the war to the cities in June 2015.

“We are unable to our trouble clearly. We would have been more courageous and persistent in our efforts to close down trenches.”

In his election manifesto, the jailed candidate vowed to bring peace if he is elected president.

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