ANKARA, (Reuters) – Deputies from Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party have decided to stay in parliament despite a court decision to ban their movement, broadcasters reported on Friday, removing a potential source of political instability.
The 19 deputies had been expected to resign in protest at the Constitutional Court verdict last week in a move which could have led to by-elections in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
If confirmed, their decision would be a relief for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, whose efforts to solve the long-running Kurdish conflict were undermined by the court ruling seen as a blow by the nationalist establishment against his reforms.
The European Union has criticised the ruling, which was seen as potentially damaging to the secular Muslim country’s faltering bid to join the bloc.
Broadcasters said Democratic Society Party (DTP) leader Ahmet Turk would announce the decision at a 2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) news conference. DTP officials declined to confirm the report. However, the deputies have been invited to join the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which was formed after the court case against the DTP was opened and is regarded as a potential replacement in the case of a ban.
“We have made our call. After an assessment, Ahmet Turk will make an announcement at 2:30 p.m.,” BDP leader Demir Celik told reporters.
Last week the Constitutional Court, using a controversial political parties act, found the DTP guilty of aiding separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels.
The PKK’s 25-year armed conflict with the state has killed 40,000 people.
Erdogan has sought to overcome the conflict by pledging economic development for the backward southeast, granting Kurdish-speakers rights to broadcast in their own language and improving ties with neighbouring Iraq, including its autonomous Kurdish regional government. He has criticised the court ruling, which caused several days of demonstrations, some violent, in the southeast.