Turkish top court unfreezes pro-Kurdish party's bank accounts

ANKARA, March 9 (Reuters) - Turkey's top court ruled on Thursday to unfreeze bank accounts of a pro-Kurdish party accused by the state of links to terrorism but likely to have a pivotal role in upcoming elections that are a threat to President Tayyip Erdogan.

The Constitutional Court reversed its own previous narrow ruling to block Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) accounts containing government aid. Its statement gave no reasons.

The HDP, the third-biggest bloc in parliament, is due 539 million lira ($28.5 million) this year in funds for parties.

The court had frozen its accounts while it heard a wider case brought by the state to ban the party over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.

The HDP denies supporting terrorism.

The party, which won 11.7% of the vote in the 2018 parliamentary election, is not part of the main opposition alliance. But it has signalled it will support the bloc's candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the presidential vote.

HDP supporters helped the opposition alliance in 2019 to defeat mayoral candidates of the ruling AK Party in Istanbul, Ankara and other major Turkish cities.

Polls show Erdogan could lose in a vote shaping into the biggest test of his 20-year rule, especially if the HDP cooperates with the opposition alliance.

There was no immediate reaction from the HDP or government to the ruling about the bank accounts.

It is unclear when the court will deliver its final ruling on the request to ban the party outright.

($1 = 18.9491 liras)

Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.