Turkey has dismissed 259 local officials for suspected links to terrorist groups or unsuitable behavior, the government said on Monday, a move the pro-Kurdish opposition said was aimed at helping the ruling AK Party ahead of 2019 polls.

The elected officials, known as “mukhtars”, serve as the lowest administrative authority in Turkey. Although not officially members of any political party, they are influential in decision-making in their villages and local districts.

The officials were dismissed pending an investigation, the Interior Ministry said, adding they were suspected of links to groups that threaten Turkey’s security or of behavior not befitting their duties. It did not elaborate on the charges.

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