Turkish court rejects delay to party closure trial
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Turkey's top court has rejected a Kurdish-backed opposition party's request to defer until after May elections a trial that could end in the party's dissolution, state media reported on Thursday.
The decision raises the chances of Turkey's third-largest party being barred from taking part in the May 14 parliamentary and presidential polls.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has been trying to dissolve the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) since March 2021 over its alleged ties to outlawed Kurdish militants.
The party says it is being singled out for standing up for Kurdish rights and resisting the government's expanding clampdown on political freedoms and dissent.
The case has reached the constitutional court in time to have major repercussions on Erdogan's changes of re-election in May and parliament's future make-up.
The HDP asked the court this month to defer its decision so that it could take part in the elections.
The court refused, Turkish state media reported, without providing further details.
The party will present its defence on March 14, NTV television reported, with no specific date set for when the court's ruling will be issued.
The court earlier this year blocked the party's access to the treasury account through which it receives state funding, throwing its campaign into limbo.
The HDP won 12 percent of the vote in a 2018 general election and holds 56 of parliament's 579 seats.
Its dissolution could limit the election options of millions of Kurdish voters and further complicate Turkey's uneasy ties with the West.
But Erdogan brands the HDP the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is backlisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the European Union and the United States.