Turkey’s Erdogan criticizes ban on Kurdish party

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan spoke out on Monday against a court ban on a Kurdish party that caused angry protests and plunged the country into political uncertainty.

The court ruling drew criticism from the European Union, dealing a new blow to Turkey’s faltering hopes of EU membership.

“Our position against the closure of the DTP is clear … We are against the closure of parties. We think individuals should be punished, not a (party) identity,” Erdogan told parliament.

The leader of the banned Democratic Society Party (DTP), closed after being found guilty of links to the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), said former party members would resign from parliament in protest.

This could open the way for by-elections, increasing political uncertainty ahead of national polls due in 2011.

In Diyarbakir, the largest city in the primarily Kurdish southeast, thousands of Kurds took to the streets, watched by riot police, for the fourth day of protests since the court disbanded the only Kurdish party in parliament.

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