EU urges Turkey to probe referendum vote

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has called on the country’s electoral board to cancel Sunday’s referen

EU urges Turkey to probe referendum vote

Supporters of the "no" vote protest in Istanbul, against the referendum outcome, Monday, April 17, 2017.

ISTANBUL (AP) - Turkey's electoral board on Wednesday rejected petitions by opposition parties to annul the outcome of a recent referendum on expanding presidential powers because of voting irregularities.

The "Yes" campaign was backed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whereas the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) did not support it.

Hundreds of people queued and protested outside the Turkish election board's offices in Ankara and Istanbul to demand a controversial last-minute decision during Sunday's referendum to accept ballots without official stamps verifying them as genuine was overturned.

On Sunday, Erdogan narrowly won a historic referendum with 51.5% of the vote. This work has now finished. "It's wrong to say something after the nation has spoken", he said.

Mr Erdogan yesterday hailed the vote as a major and much-needed step in restoring stability, saying it was the first time that Turkey had changed its political system through "civil politics".

In a further sign of nervousness about the referendum's implications for the migration pact, the commission's spokesman did not rule out visa-free travel coming to fruition for Turkey.

The mission of observers from the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights body, said the referendum was an uneven contest.

He said the results of the referendum on constitutional changes are "illegitimate" and the party would use all legal paths to challenge it.

Electoral board head Sadi Guven said the objections would be evaluated later on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump had on Monday also congratulated Erdogan for his victory in the poll, which has been disputed by the opposition and has been greeted coolly by the European Union.

Over the weekend, the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri, also expressed concern over the vote, which she called a "major shift" away from European values.

A government spokesperson said: "We will follow closely how Turkey behaves on this".

Kemalist and social democratic opposition party CHP said it had received complaints from many regions that people had been unable to vote in privacy and added that some ballots were counted in secret, the party's deputy chairman Bulent Tezcan said on April 17.

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