ISTANBUL – The co-chairman of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) will run in the country’s first direct presidential election in August, Turkish media said Thursday.
The HDP’s Selahattin Demirtas announced his candidacy on Turkish news channel Haberturk TV before tweeting: “I would like to (be) perceived as the candidate of all the oppressed and the neglected groups in Turkey.”
Kurds account for around a fifth of Turkey’s population. The HDP is a sister party of the Peace and Democracy Party, which dominates much of the mainly Kurdish southeast. The HDP was formed late last year to fight mayoral elections in western Turkey, where Kurds are in a minority.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has not declared his candidacy but is widely expected to run for president.
The opposition Republican People’s Party and the Nationalist Movement Party last week named prominent Islamist diplomat Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu as their candidate, in a bid to unite opposition against Erdogan.