Turkish opposition challenges presidential powers vote

by Marta Holmes April 23, 2017, 2:18

Days after Turkey's election authority rejected a request to annul the referendum on boosting the president's powers, the country's main opposition party on Friday took its petition to the nation's highest administrative court.

But there was anger and shock after the Supreme Election Board (YSK) made a last-minute decision to accept ballot documents in envelopes without an official stamp, which the opposition argues opened the way for fraud.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said U.S. President Donald Trump would do what former President Barack Obama failed to do regarding Fetullah Gulen, U.S. -based mastermind of last July's failed coup.

Mehmet Hadimi Yakupoglu, the Republican People's Party's representative to the High Electoral Board, said the party had asked the board to annul Sunday's referendum "because we weren't able to ensure election safety".

In the statement, Tezcan urged the results not to be finalised until the case was concluded and said the party's lawyer would deliver the paperwork to the court later on Friday afternoon.

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Turkey's state-run news agency says 19 people were detained in Istanbul for allegedly using the results of a constitutional referendum as an "excuse" to organize "unauthorized demonstrations".

With Turkish police beginning to crack down on those who have called for demonstrations over the result, left-wing website sendika.org said its editor-in-chief Ali Ergin Demirhan was held in a pre-down raid on its offices.

"By and hook and by crook, they used the people's resources to open the way to a "Yes" vote and close it to a "No" vote, running a referendum campaign with a thousand and one lies splashed in newspapers", said the website.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, whose post will cease to exist once Erdogan's all-powerful presidency proposed under the referendum comes into effect, said everyone had a right to complain - but it would not change the outcome. "It is not right to correct the decision of the people by complaining to the courts".

Worldwide monitors say the electoral board's decision removed an important safeguard against fraud and was "contrary to Turkish law". Ataturk's grandiose mausoleum in Ankara draws foreign dignitaries, tourists with selfie sticks and schoolchildren who gaze at honor guards in steel helmets. The legacy of the man whose surname means "father of Turks" was one of a modern, secular, western-leaning Turkey.


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