Turkey's election board rejects appeals to annul referendum

Gladys Abbott
April 21, 2017

Supporters of the "no" vote protest in Istanbul, against the referendum outcome, Monday, April 17, 2017. A rapid implementation of constitutional reforms by Erdogan, taking full control of his political party and nominating senior judges, would likely strengthen the hand of countries willing to formally suspend accession talks, the official said.

"Rumours of irregularities in the referendum are a vain effort to cast doubt on the result".

There have been daily street protests in anti-Erdogan neighbourhoods in Istanbul after Sunday's referendum, which the opposition claims was marred by blatant violations. Hundreds of people are queuing in front of Turkey's election board in cap.

People walk in central Istanbul's Taksim Square, Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

The move comes despite protests from opposition parties and worldwide monitoring groups - as well as Trump's own State Department - about voting irregularities during Sunday's referendum.

The protesters on Wednesday evening chanted "Thief, Murderer, Erdogan" and "Don't be silent, shout out, "no" to the presidency".

Ten members of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) decided against annulling the vote, while only one voted in favour, the board said in a statement.

The president and government should be setting out the steps they intend to take to restore full respect for human rights in Turkey, including ending arbitrary detention and prosecution, safeguarding freedom of the media and expression and judicial independence, and guaranteeing all citizens their right to political participation, Human Rights Watch said.

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The proposed switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system in Turkey had sparked a debate in European countries, with several politicians arguing that such a change would weaken the independence of the judiciary, and other necessary checks and balances of a democratic system.

His comments came as the YSK met to evaluate appeals to annul the referendum and after the bar association and an global monitor said the board had acted illegally by allowing unstamped ballot papers to be counted, and may have swung the vote.

The board met for seven hours Wednesday before rejecting the request.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, whose job will cease to exist once the constitutional changes take full effect, said Erdogan would be invited to rejoin the ruling AK Party as soon as official results are announced, a sign the government has no intention of waiting to see the outcome of opposition appeals.

Turkey's election authority on Wednesday rejected opposition requests to cancel a referendum that boosted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's authority as police detained activists over street protests following the contested poll.

Opposition parties called for the vote to be annulled because of a series of irregularities, particularly an electoral board decision to accept ballots that didn't bear official stamps, as required by Turkish law.

The referendum was seen as crucial not just for shaping Turkey's political system but also the future strategic direction of a nation that has been a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member since 1952 and a European Union hopeful for half a century, the French agency elaborated.

The board's decision to accept ballots without official stamps was like "changing the rules midgame", he said.

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