The Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a nationalist group that has been waging war on Ankara for the past 29 years, named hardliner Cemil Bayik as the group’s new leader, according to local media.
The decision to appoint Bayik, a founding father of the outlawed organization who is known for aggressive statements at Ankara, comes amid an ongoing peace process between the PKK and the Turkish government, reported AFP.
Bayik will replace moderate Murat Karayilan, who will retain control of the PKK’s military, according to Firat, a pro-Kurdish news publication. Firat did not report a reason for the leadership shuffle.
In March, Turkey and PKK representative Abdullah Öcalan agreed to a deal of renewed efforts at settling the conflict between Ankara and nationalist Kurds, including a ceasefire in which 2,000 PKK troops would return from Turkey to their headquarters in northern Iraq, AFP reported.
According to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the withdrawal has not been efficient, with around 80 percent of those PKK forces still in the country.
The PKK hopes to gain in return more constitutional rights for Kurds in Turkey, who represent about one-fifth of the country’s population of 75 million, reported AFP.
Most of them live in the southeast of the country, and many are growing tired of what they see as empty or construed promises from the Turkish government, AFP reported.