June 11, 2015 / 7:49 AM / 4 years ago

Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition open to coalition without AKP

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said on Thursday it was open to all options for a coalition government other than with the ruling AK Party, and that President Tayyip Erdogan should remain within his constitutional limits.

The HDP was a big winner in a national election on Sunday, crossing the 10 percent threshold to enter parliament for the first time and helping to deprive the AKP, founded by Erdogan, of the overall majority it had held for more than a decade.

The result has left the AKP searching for a junior coalition partner or facing the prospect of trying to rule alone in a minority government. If it fails in either option, Turkey could face a snap election.

“Pulling Turkey into early election debates right away will not help. We believe Turkey has to continue on its way by forming a coalition,” HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas told reporters in Ankara.

He said the HDP’s door was open to opposition parties, but again ruled out going into coalition with the AKP.

Demirtas also said that the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, was ready to make a call for disarmament and that a peace process with his group should accelerate.

The HDP, which has visited Ocalan on his island prison of Imrali as part of peace efforts launched by Erdogan, and which won almost all its seats in the largely Kurdish southeast,

said it would be applying to make another visit in the coming days.

“As HDP, we understand our responsibility to continue the peace process from where it left off, and we are willing to do more,” Demirtas said.

Erdogan launched the peace process with Ocalan in 2012 to end a three-decade conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people. Since then, Kurds have accused Erdogan of backtracking on the process, which has been on hold for months.

The HDP is central to the talks, which have also attracted fierce criticism from Turkish nationalists.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Nick Tattersall, Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Angus MacSwan

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