Turkish opposition party files to have referendum voided
ANKARA, Turkey (AP)
Turkey's prime minister yesterday called on the opposition to respect the result of a referendum that will give sweeping new powers to the office of the president, but the main opposition party formally requested to have the vote voided.
Sunday's vote gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "yes" camp a narrow win for constitutional changes that will abolish the office of the prime minister and convert Turkey's system of government from a parliamentary to a presidential one.
The referendum took place under a state of emergency that was declared following a failed military coup last summer. Turkey's parliament agreed yesterday to extend for another three months the emergency powers allowing the government to rule by decree.
Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, said the party filed a formal request seeking the referendum's annulment due to voting irregularities. He said the party would use all legal paths to challenge the vote.
"We demand the cancellation of this referendum," Tezcan said.
The opposition has cited several problems with how the vote was conducted. But it has been particularly outraged by an electoral board decision, announced as the polls closed Sunday, to accept ballots that didn't bear the official stamps used to verify they are genuine, as required by Turkish law.
Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who also listed numerous irregularities, said the board's move undermined important election safeguards. The assessment drew a harsh rebuke from Erdogan and criticism from Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
"Efforts to cast a shadow on the result of the vote by spreading rumours of fraud are futile and in vain," Yildirim said. "The will of the people was freely reflected into the ballot boxes, and this business is over. Everyone and all sections and the main opposition party in particular must show respect. It is wrong to speak after the people have spoken."