The European Union expressed its concerns about the Turkish government’s decision to replace the newly elected mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van, three key provinces in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. Hundreds of people have also been detained as part of a major terrorism-related investigation.

“The replacement of Selçuk Mızraklı, Bedia Özgökçe Ertan and Ahmet Türk by state governors is of serious concern as it puts the respect of the democratic outcomes of the 31 March elections into question. Dismissals and detentions of local politicians and appointment of trustees deprive voters of political representation at local level, and seriously risk damaging local democracy.”, the Union warned.

Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdogan warned before the March elections that mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party could again be dismissed for alleged ties to militants.