Monday, 25 September, 2017

Erdogan slams criticism of disputed Turkey poll

Trump congratulates Erdogan on referendum Trump congratulates Erdogan on referendum
Howard Terry | 20 April, 2017, 00:23

"We can't just go back to the daily routine after the Turkey referendum".

Donald Trump has called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on his narrow victory in a much-disputed referendum granting sweeping new powers.

EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the EU was encouraging "Turkey to move closer to the European Union again, and not to move even further and faster away from us".

Erdogan has lashed back at the OSCE global monitors' initial findings, telling them to "know their place", Reuters reports.

The "Yes" camp won more than 51 percent in Sunday's referendum while the "No" side got nearly 49 percent, according to near-complete results released by Turkey's election authorities.

The narrow margin endorsing a referendum to change the country's constitution sparked rancorous debate on Twitter and Facebook, as the country's main opposition party called on Monday for the vote result to be annulled.

"This is why the only decision that will end debate about the legitimacy (of the vote) and ease the people's legal concerns is the annulment of this election", deputy party chairman Bulent Tezcan said.

There were protests in Istanbul with a few thousand people crowding the anti-Erdogan Besiktas and Kadikoy districts, blowing whistles and chanting "We are shoulder to shoulder against fascism".

The opposition had already complained of an unfair campaign that saw the "yes" backers swamp the airwaves and use up billboards across the country in a saturation advertising campaign.

Earlier on Monday, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had said that circumstances such as a "lack of equal opportunities, one-sided media coverage, and limitations on fundamental freedoms" had created an "unlevel playing field" in the campaigning and voting process.

Turkey's High Electoral Board made a last-minute decision on Sunday to count ballots that had not been stamped by officials.

Late changes in counting procedures "removed an important safeguard and were contested by the opposition", the report added.

Mr Erdogan has rejected criticism from worldwide monitors who said he had been favoured by an "unequal campaign".

"The crusader mentality in the West and its servants at home have attacked us", he told a crowd as he arrived at Ankara airport, in response to the vote monitors' assessment.

There were also signs of a looming crisis with the EU. He said that he will work quickly with Parliament to re-introduce the death penalty, and if that fails, another referendum may be called. "It is clear that the country can not join the European Union with a constitution that doesn't respect the separation of powers and has no checks and balances", she said in a statement.

In an address to legislators from his ruling party, Binali Yildirim said the people had voted to switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

The new executive powers that will accrue to Mr. Erdogan if he wins the 2019 elections, a very likely outcome, include the abolition of the post of Prime Minister and the transfer of that power to the President; authority to appoint members to the judiciary; and the removal of the bar on the President maintaining party affiliation. Official results are due in 12 days.

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