Turkey: Opposition's Referendum Appeal Rejected

Turkey's main opposition CHP party said yesterday it was making a court appeal against the decision by the High Electoral Board (YSK) to accept unstamped ballots in the tightly contested referendum granting President Tayyip Erdogan wide new powers.

The pro-Kurdish opposition HDP, which had appealed along with the CHP for the referendum to be annulled, said the late decision by the electoral board to allow un-stamped ballots meant it was impossible to determine how many invalid or fake votes may have been counted.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he would meet his US counterpart Donald Trump in Washington on May 16-17, in their first meeting since Trump took office in January.

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".

Bozdag also reiterated government criticism of a report by European election observers who said the referendum, carried out under emergency law, took place on an "unlevel playing field". A former Istanbul mayor who became prime minister in 2003, he represents a class of pious Muslims, many in rural areas, who chafed under a hardline secular order that was set in motion by Ataturk during his nation-building project.

"What we are seeing is actually an attempt to consolidate state power in Turkey", said Halil Karaveli, a Sweden-based senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program. "We must put an end to this", said Erodgan.

He also said that Trump s background as a successful businessman was a help.

Demonstrations against the outcome of a referendum expanding the president's powers are continuing in Istanbul, where protesters are demanding the resignation of the election board that has refused to void the vote.

He says the party's next stop is Turkey's constitutional court and, if it is unsuccessful there, then the European Court of Human Rights. "It is not right to correct the decision of the people by complaining to the courts". The board, however, published past rulings on the validity of unstamped ballots.

Global monitors say that the electoral board's decision removed an important safeguard against fraud and was "contrary to law".

Unofficial results show the Yes campaign won with 51.41 percent, while the No vote stood at 48.59 percent.

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