Turkish president defends suspension of 28 mayors Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggests municipalities had provided direct support to terrorism

ISTANBUL (AA) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday gave an impassioned defense of the government decision to suspend 28 mayors from office over alleged terror links.

“Some question how an elected official can get suspended,” he told an audience in Istanbul. “I say they can.”

“Being elected does not give you unlimited authority and powers to use against the government and people.”

On Sunday, the Interior Ministry announced the replacement of the mayors with trustees, mostly in the east and southeast. Most of the suspended mayors are accused of links to the PKK terror group while four are said to have ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) behind the July 15 attempted coup.

“If you use the machines delivered to you by the government for terrorist purposes instead of laying water or natural gas pipes or power cables, then the justice system will make you answer for it,” Erdogan said, referring to instances where municipal diggers and other machinery had been used to dig ditches and build barriers to prevent security forces entering areas controlled by the PKK.

The president said those who used their powers in support of terrorism were not “really mayors in the truest sense of the word”.

Addressing an Eid al-Adha event at the Halic Congress Center, he added: “Being elected does not give anyone the right and authority to offer given resources to terrorist organizations.”

Turning to Monday’s car bombing in the eastern city of Van that injured 53 people, Erdogan vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

“Sooner or later, we will drown the scum who detonated a 1,000 kilogram bomb in Van on the first day of holy Eid al-Adha in their own blood,” he said.

“There is no other way around it. Nobody has a right to spoil these holy days. This scum will pay for it.”

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, which seemingly targeted the local offices of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party. The PKK has previously used car bombs to target security forces in the region.

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