Newly elected Van co-mayor announces 8.5 billion liras debt left by trustee

Van Co-Mayor Abdullah Zeydan has announced that the previous trustee mayor had put the municipality into a debt of 8.5 billion liras. This figure was merely 400 million liras in 2022, Zeydan added.

Duvar English

In the aftermath of the March 31 local elections, newly elected municipalities continue to announce exorbitant debts left by the previous trustee or AKP administrations. 

In the first council meeting, Van Co-Mayor Abdullah Zeydan announced on April 20 that the previous trustee administration had left 8.5 billion liras debt in the municipality, Demirören News Agency reported

Zeydan said the municipality has this debt together with its subsidiaries.

“In 2022, this debt was only 400 million liras, but in the last 1.5 years, with the appointment of a new governor, the debt has reached 8.5 billion liras,” he added.

After the 2019 local elections, the Interior Ministry appointed a trustee mayor, then-Van Governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez, to Van Municipality as part of a practice mostly implemented in the Kurdish-majority southeastern provinces against democratically elected Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors on the grounds of alleged “terrorism” investigations.

Bilmez was replaced by the new governor, Ozan Balcı, in 2022.

Zeydan also said they detected many vehicles rented through the municipality are used by other institutions.

“160 rented vehicles were identified and their contracts were terminated. One million (liras of) income was provided to our municipality every month when the vehicle rental fee and fuel costs were taken into account,” he continued. 

Zeydan was handed the mayorship by the Supreme Election Council (YSK) after a controversial move of the Van province's election board. The board decided that the candidate of the AKO, the second-place finisher who took 27.2 percent of the votes in the city, should be handed the Van mayorship due to a legal issue with Zeydan's candidacy.

Zeydan won the Van metropolitan municipality with co-candidate Neslihan Şedal by an overwhelming 55.48 percent of the votes.

Thousands of people had protested against the government's efforts to hijack elections in Van despite severe police attacks with tear gas and water cannons.

The Supreme Election Council (YSK) on April 3 overturned the decision and declared Zeydan as Van Mayor.