Turkish PM warns opposition against street protests
Turkish PM warns opposition against street protests
Outcome of Turkey vote expanding presidential powers likely to further cool EU relations
20 April, 2017, 00:26
President Trump's phone call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulating him on the passage of a referendum expanding his governing powers was not an endorsement of the measure, the White House said Tuesday.
According to Turkish electoral law, officials have to stamp ballots, that are then placed in stamped envelopes before being dropped in the ballot box.
The U.S. State Department said it had taken note of the European monitors' concerns and looked forward to a final report, urging the Turkish government to protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens, however they voted.
On Tuesday, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) submitted a petition demanding the cancelation of Sunday's referendum to Turkey's Supreme Board of Election.
Protests have erupted across Turkey over the past three days against allegations of cheating in votes in a referendum that delivered the ruling party a victory and ushers in the controversial presidential system.
With more than 99 percent of the ballots counted, 51.34 percent of people said "yes" to increase Erdogan's powers compared with 48.667 percent that cast "no" votes.
"Everyone should respect the outcome, especially the main opposition", he added.
"It is clear that the High Electoral Board is not receiving its power from the people, the law or the constitution but rather from a specific center, a specific political authority", he told his party's lawmakers during a speech in Ankara Tuesday.
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Global election monitors, including from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also noted a series of irregularities, and said the decision to accept as valid ballots without official stamps undermined safeguards against fraud and was contrary to Turkish law.
"Such a speculative statement from a spokesperson can not be accepted", Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told reporters at a televised press conference, calling on the EU to "respect democratic processes". "We will follow closely how Turkey behaves on this".
"What matters for us is not so much the first reaction from whomever in Turkey, directed more at domestic politics, but whether the responsible Turkish authorities really deal seriously with the criticism voiced publicly by the OSCE election observer mission, which was meant seriously and researched seriously".
"We will determine a date for the two presidents to meet in May before the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit as previously confirmed by the leaders", Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tells reporters in Ankara.
Underscoring the complicated relationship between the USA and Turkey, the White House readout of Trump's call also noted the pressing issues on which the US has tried to work with Turkey, namely fighting the Islamic State group and quelling Syria's civil war.
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Late changes in counting procedures "removed an important safeguard and were contested by the opposition", the report added. Erdogan has lashed back at the OSCE global monitors' initial findings, telling them to "know their place", Reuters reports.
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