Kurdish Islamic party declares support for presidential system in Turkey

Huda Par General Secretary Zekeriya Yapicioglu

The Kurdish Islamic Huda-Par (Free Cause Party) operating in Turkey’s Kurdish dominated southeast region, has declared it will vote in favour of constitutional change in the upcoming referendum.

Speaking at a press conference in his party’s headquarters in Ankara on Thursday, Huda-Par General Secretary Zekeriya Yapicioglu said, “despite finding the constitution lacking, we think it is a step towards a more democratic one.”

The Sunni Islamist party is seen as a rival to the secular left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has declared it will vote against the constitutional reform that aims to give President Erdogan what critics say is ultimate control of the legislative, judiciary and administrative spheres. Erdogan has called the change a shift to a ‘presidential system’.

Huda Par, whose support base has voted for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in previous elections, has ties with what is known as the Turkish-Kurdish Hezbollah, a militant group supported by the state – especially in the 1990s – to target pro-PKK politicians and activists.

At least 17,000 people, the majority civilians, are thought to have been killed extra-judicially by state forces and counter-guerrilla groups such as Hezbollah at the height of clashes with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the 1990s.

Turkey will go to the polls in a constitutional referendum on 16 April.