Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has called for the dismissal of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the post if he is found to be “guilty” in an investigation concerning the metropolitan municipality staff.
Bahçeli made the comments after the Interior Ministry launched an investigation into hundreds of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality staff, accusing them of terrorism links.
“What are people linked to terror organizations doing in Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality? If those who recruited those people linked to terrorism to the municipality are proven guilty as charged, no pity should be shown to anybody, especially Metropolitan Municipality Mayor. It will be the necessity of the justice that they are immediately removed from their post,” Bahçeli said during an interview to daily Türkgün on Dec. 30.
“Those who have protected the criminals have committed a crime. If the accusations are true, Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor has betrayed Istanbul. This betrayal cannot go unpunished,” he said.
Bahçeli went further to suggest that the municipal council needs to elect a new mayor if İmamoğlu is found “guilty.”
Asked if he wants the dismissal of İmamoğlu from the post, Bahçeli said: “He, of course, needs to be removed from the post, if he is guilty. And the metropolitan municipality council needs to elect a new mayor.”
Earlier this week, the Interior Ministry announced that an investigation was launched into claims that dozens of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's personnel are linked to "terrorist organizations."
The ministry statement came after Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that 33,000 people were employed in the municipality under the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and records of 12,000 of them were looked into. He also claimed that dozens of personnel were linked to "terrorist organizations."
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the CHP, slammed Soylu's claims and said that the minister wasn't mentally well.
İmamoğlu is one of the figures targeted frequently by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ever since his decisive victory in the Istanbul elections. Infuriated by losing Turkey's largest city to the main opposition, the AKP has been making İmamoğlu face investigations on bogus charges.
Despite these attempts, İmamoğlu's job approval rate has been increasing while the AKP's votes melt, according to various polls.