Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Turkey's premier calls on opposition to respect referendum

Turkey's main opposition began a battle on Tuesday to annul a referendum handing President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers, while the bar association and an global monitor said an illegal move by electoral authorities may have swung the vote.

According to Turkish electoral law, officials have to stamp ballots, that are then placed in stamped envelopes before being dropped in the ballot box.

"Politically motivated comments against the YSK's decision to accept unstamped ballots are wrong", Celik said, referring to the electoral board by its Turkish acronym.

Turkey's prime minister has called on the opposition to respect the result of a referendum that will expand the powers of the office of the president.

Prime Minister and AKP leader Binali Yildirim said Erdogan could rejoin the party he founded in 2001 once official results - expected before the end of the month - were announced.

He also criticized the YSK, saying, "the quickly made decision of the electoral commission to validate wrongly or not at all stamped ballots is a violation of Turkish law".

Thousands have protested in Istanbul and Ankara since Sunday's referendum, which has set into motion the transformation of Turkey's system of government from a parliamentary into a presidential one.

Worldwide monitors said the move undermined safeguards against fraud.

The changes, most of which are due to come into force after November 2019, are some of the most far-reaching in Turkey since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established the modern state in the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.

The referendum approves 18 constitutional amendments that allow the president to appoint ministers, senior government officials and to hold sway over who sits in Turkey's highest judicial body, as well as to issue decrees and declare states of emergency. The president will also be allowed to keep his ties to a political party.

"There is no doubt that President Erdogan has been repeatedly elected through a democratic process, but I think the approach that they've been taking towards the press is one that could lead Turkey down a path that would be very troubling, " Obama said in an April 2016 news conference.

On Tuesday, Yildirim said Erdogan would be invited to join the party as soon as the official results are declared.

Meanwhile, OSCE monitors were seen entering the Supreme Electoral Board headquarters.

Up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated in the referendum, Alev Korun, an Austrian member of the Council of Europe observer mission, told ORF radio yesterday. "Because we do not have the authority to forgive the murders of our martyrs", Erdogan said at a rally Monday.

A wave of protests in Istanbul showed no signs of abating on Tuesday evening as calls for an investigation into Turkey's referendum results began to gather steam. "We will follow closely how Turkey behaves on this".

The two leaders also discussed Turkey's support for the US response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack and efforts to counter the Islamic State group, according to a White House summary of their phone call Monday.

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