Former coleader of pro-Kurdish HDP, Selahattin Demirtas, expressed his support for opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu on Monday [File: Vincent Kessler/Reuters]

Imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, has called on pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) to “remain neutral” in Istanbul’s mayoral elections, defying Kurdish support for the opposition candidate.

“Abdullah Ocalan, in a statement from Imrali Prison, called on the Peoples’ Democratic Party to remain unbiased in the Istanbul election,” Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency tweeted on Thursday evening, referring to a June 18 letter written by Ocalan.

“The understanding of a democracy embodied in the HDP means it should not take sides or be party to the current electoral debates,” Anadolu quoted Ocalan as saying in another tweet.

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