Saturday, 27 May, 2017

Trump called Turkey's Erdogan to congratulate him on referendum win: Turkish sources

Saul Franklin | 18 April, 2017, 03:09

However, changes in counting procedures "removed an important safeguard and were contested by the opposition", they said.

The referendum on constitutional amendments in Turkey on Sunday was not in compliance with the standards of the Council of Europe, global observers from OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said in a statement.

Before the vote, critics had said creating a powerful presidency was an attempt by Erdogan to establish a "one-man rule".

Response from Europe, which has had increasingly strained ties with Turkey, was cautious, awaiting the judgment of worldwide observers later on Monday.

The main opposition party has said it will challenge the result on the basis of irregularities-including the use of unstamped ballot papers-but the head of the country's electoral body has said the result is valid.

The opposition alleges the vote was stained by violations.

The referendum took place on "an unlevel playing field and the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities", the statement said.

Earlier leader of the CHP Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu announced their objection on the referendum results.

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The Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a member, is a separate entity from the EU.

The Turkish president has been particularly vocal in calling for a return to capital punishment since the failed coup of July 2016, when a section of the Turkish military attempted to seize power in an uprising that Erdogan has pinned on US -based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Merkel and Gabriel urged in the statement for a closer political dialogue between Turkey, EU and other European institutions to address concerns over the proposed constitutional changes.

Sources in Erdogan's office said on Sunday that he told Prime Minister Binali Yildirim he was grateful to the nation for showing its will at the polls.

The president survived a coup attempt past year and responded with a crackdown, jailing 47,000 people and sacking or suspending more than 120,000 from government jobs such as schoolteachers, soldiers, police, judges or other professionals.

Leader Devlet Bahceli, who led the party's push for "Yes", said the result was an "undeniably successful achievement" and should be respected, according to Reuters news agency. The result leaves Turkish society even more polarized and may produce more instability. The French vote for a new president begins next Sunday.

Germany, home to the largest number of Turks outside Turkey, said the apparent closeness of the result highlights a deep division in the country. "The constitutional change was accepted by the choice of over 25 million people".

Erdogan served as prime minister from 2003 until 2014, when rules were changed to hold direct elections for the office of president, previously a ceremonial role elected by parliament.

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