Appliance aid in Tunceli switched back on .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} TUNCELİ - The distribution of state aid of appliances and furniture to the poor in the eastern province of Tunceli resumed only several hours after it was halted.

Officials from the local prosecutor’s office said the investigation they initiated per the Supreme Election Board’s, or YSK, decision did not mean the aid distribution was to be suspended. "The courts will have to decide that," officials said, reported the Doğan news agency.

After the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, filed a complaint to the YSK, the board decided the timing of the aid distribution, which was supervised by the governor’s offices, violated the Election Law. The local elections are scheduled to take place on March 29 and many opposition parties had complained the distribution of appliances as aid to the poor was being exploited by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, as an election tool. Senior AKP officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have defended it.

When the aid distribution was suspended in Tunceli early on Wednesday, it was reported that the suspension was due to the fact that the prosecutor’s office had initiated an inquiry.

The aid includes white goods like fridges, stoves and furniture.

Tunceli Deputy Governor Oğuz Alp Çağlar said the distribution was suspended for a few hours only because some furniture and appliances were out of stock.

One person who did not want to be named told Doğan news agency that he was one of the distributors and had stopped delivering the goods after the governor’s office had told him to do so. "We had enough stock in our depots," he said. The muhtar, an elected neighborhood official, of the Cumhuriyet neighborhood, Ali Rıza Güneş, said he was called in by the prosecutor’s office. Muhtars are used as intermediaries in aid distribution.

"They asked me many questions. They asked when the distribution began and if I was a member of any party. I was also asked if I told anyone to vote for a specific party while handing over the appliances," he said.

He said he had explained to the prosecutor that the aid had nothing to do with the election.

Batman aid distribution
The governor’s office in the northeastern province Batman started to distribute 500 heating stoves to poor families. Batman Governor Recep Kızılcık denied claims that the aid had anything to do with the coming elections, arguing that the latest stove distribution was part of a project that began two years ago.

He said the project also included renovating decrepit homes and distributing food. "The project may spark a controversy because of the timing but we are not working with the election in mind," he said.

He said 2,500 families were given food and that they had conducted a survey of 20,000 families to get an understanding of what they needed.

"We will distribute three month's worth of food in the coming days. We first started a coal assistance program and now we are distributing stoves. We will also give 1,000 Turkish liras each to 1,000 women as part of our micro-credit initiative.

"Many families will starve if we suspend our aid," he said. The head of the Batman Chamber of Trade and Industry, Mehmet Teymur, in a written statement, said they had planned a 12 million-lira appliance aid package to the 20,000 families selected by the governor’s office but after the reports about "election aid" they suspended it. In the statement, Teymur said criticism of such projects should be constructive, arguing that defining any such aid before the elections as a ploy would not improve the situation of the poor.