Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Turkey minister rejects European Union call for probe into vote

Turkey minister rejects European Union call for probe into vote

Turkey's main opposition party urged the country's electoral board Monday to cancel the results of a landmark referendum that granted sweeping new powers to Erdogan, citing what it called substantial voting irregularities.

Most shockingly, as the polls were about to close, the YSK [Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council] announced that it would accept votes that had not received the official seal of the local polling station-in other words, the stamp that proves the ballot came from the polling station, and not from somewhere else.

"Calling people to the street is wrong and is outside the line of legitimacy", Yildirim said, adding that "we expect the main opposition party's leader to act more responsibly".

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".

"Efforts to cast a shadow on the result of the vote by spreading rumors of fraud are futile and in vain", Yildirim said.

The new system takes effect at the next election, now due to take place in November 2019.

A Turkish government minister on Tuesday (April 18) blasted the EU's "unacceptable" appeal for a probe into alleged irregularities in the referendum on boosting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers. The president will also be allowed to keep his ties to a political party.

But he said the AKP would not hold a party congress until 2018, indicating Erdogan would not officially become its leader until then.

Turkey's "yes" campaign was led by the governing AK Party and supported by the right-wing MHP.

Election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were seen entering the High Electoral Board headquarters in Ankara.

The US State Department had highlighted "irregularities" and "an uneven playing field" found by the OSCE Referendum Observation Mission during the mission's Monday afternoon initial findings report on the referendum. "We share our report and we completed our mandate".

In Istanbul, thousands of "no" supporters continued their demonstrations Tuesday, carrying banners that said "Don't give in" and chanting "Thief, Murderer, Erdogan!"

Protesters were fewer in number in Ankara, where they were outnumbered by police officers.

Turkey has long called for the United States to extradite Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara has accused of orchestrating the failed July 15 military coup d'état.

In contrast to the tensions with the EU, Trump called Erdogan to "congratulate him on his recent referendum victory", the White House said in a statement.

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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