Turkey’s election watchdog has removed and launched a disciplinary probe against 13 election officials over their alleged responsibility for the irregularities detected in the Istanbul municipal election in late March.
The move came less than three weeks before Istanbul’s rerun elections on June 23.
“Thirteen chairs of the balloting boxes (in Istanbul) have been assigned to other cities due to excessive irregularities in choosing heads of polling station officials and its members,” Sadi Güven, the head of the Supreme Election Board (YSK), said in a written statement late June 5.
He also announced that a disciplinary investigation was launched and criminal complaints issued against these personnel.
Güven’s statements followed strong reactions from political parties after a decision by the YSK ruled out any action against provincial heads of the YSK in Istanbul where irregularities have been cited.
The YSK head recalled that the removal and promotion of the judges is under the responsibility of the Judges and Prosecutors Council (HSK) and that notifications regarding these judges have already been made.
“The appointments and dismissal of judges are not under the authority of the YSK,” Güven said.
The YSK had canceled Istanbul polls on the grounds that scores of irregularities had been detected in the composition of polling stations officials and ruled for the renewal of polls on June 23.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu had slammed the YSK’s initial decision on not taking any action against the provincial heads, saying: “By giving this decision, they have declared openly that the justification they have issued (for canceling Istanbul votes) has no meaning at all. Our democracy has received a major blow.”