Turkey vote stands for now

Elec­toral board re­jects re­quest to an­nul referendum

The Observer (Sarnia) - - WORLD NEWS - ZEYNEP BILGINSOY

IS­TAN­BUL — Turkey’s elec­toral board on Wed­nes­day re­jected pe­ti­tions by op­po­si­tion par­ties to an­nul the out­come of the week­end’s referendum on ex­pand­ing pres­i­den­tial pow­ers be­cause of vot­ing irregularities. The de­ci­sion led pro­test­ers in Is­tan­bul to call for the res­ig­na­tion of board mem­bers while the main op­po­si­tion party said it would take the de­ci­sion to Turkey’s top court.

The High Elec­toral Board an­nounced in a writ­ten state­ment its de­ci­sion by a 10-1 vote to re­ject three re­quests by the op­po­si­tion.

Mehmet Hadimi Yaku­poglu, the main op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Peo­ple’s Party’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the board, said they would take the de­ci­sion to the con­sti­tu­tional court and then to the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights if nec­es­sary. “We will de­mand the rights of the vot­ers un­til the end,” he said.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties have com­plained of a se­ries of irregularities, par­tic­u­larly an elec­toral board de­ci­sion to ac­cept bal­lots with­out of­fi­cial stamps, as re­quired by Turk­ish law. The board, how­ever, pub­lished past rul­ings on the va­lid­ity of un­stamped bal­lots.

The Is­tan­bul Bar As­so­ci­a­tion on Wed­nes­day filed a crim­i­nal com­plaint against elec­toral board head Sadi Gu­ven for “wrong­ful con­duct” and “al­ter­ing the re­sult of the elec­tion.”

A pros­e­cu­tor will now con­sider whether to press charges against Gu­ven.

Be­fore the elec­toral board’s an­nounce­ment, Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim said the op­po­si­tion had the right to file ob­jec­tions, but warned that call­ing for street protests was un­ac­cept­able. He said that “the path to seek rights” should be lim­ited to the courts.

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

How­ever, thou­sands con­tin­ued to protest Sun­day’s referendum, which has set into mo­tion the trans­for­ma­tion of Turkey’s sys­tem of gov­ern­ment from a par­lia­men­tary to a pres­i­den­tial one that would give more power to Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan.

Some 2,000 pro­test­ers in Is­tan­bul Wed­nes­day evening de­manded the res­ig­na­tion of the elec­toral board and chanted “Don’t be si­lent, shout out, ‘no’ to the pres­i­dency.”

Ear­lier, 19 peo­ple were de­tained for al­legedly us­ing the re­sults of a con­sti­tu­tional referendum as an “ex­cuse” to or­ga­nize “unau­tho­rized demon­stra­tions,” of­fi­cial Anadolu news agency re­ported.

Un­of­fi­cial re­sults show a nar­row win for Er­do­gan’s “yes” cam­paign, which gar­nered 51.4 per cent of the vote.

In­ter­na­tional elec­tion mon­i­tors, in­clud­ing from the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe, noted a se­ries of irregularities, and said the de­ci­sion to ac­cept as valid bal­lots with­out of­fi­cial stamps un­der­mined safe­guards against fraud and was con­trary to Turk­ish law.

Ger­many also ex­pressed con­cern.

“The Ger­man gov­ern­ment takes the re­port by the OSCE and the Coun­cil of Europe very se­ri­ously, and we ex­pect Turkey to do so,” gov­ern­ment spokes­woman Ul­rike Dem­mer told re­porters in Ber­lin. “We will fol­low closely how Turkey be­haves on this. From the Ger­man gov­ern­ment’s point of view, Turkey must ... clear up the ques­tions that have been raised.”

Er­do­gan has dis­missed the crit­i­cism from the ob­servers, telling the mon­i­tors to “know your place.”

“That the Turk­ish lead­er­ship didn’t like the crit­i­cism by the OSCE’s elec­tion ob­server mission isn’t a sur­prise to any­one,” Ger­man For­eign Min­istry spokesman Martin Schae­fer said.

“What mat­ters for us is not so much the first re­ac­tion from whomever in Turkey, di­rected more at do­mes­tic pol­i­tics, but whether the re­spon­si­ble Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties re­ally deal se­ri­ously with the crit­i­cism voiced pub­licly by the OSCE elec­tion ob­server mission, which was meant se­ri­ously and re­searched se­ri­ously.”

The U.S. re­sponse has been dif­fer­ent, with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump call­ing Er­do­gan shortly after the referendum to con­grat­u­late him on his win.

For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu said that Er­do­gan and Trump would meet in per­son next month, be­fore a NATO sum­mit.

BURHAN OZBILICI/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan de­liv­ers a speech dur­ing a rally of sup­port­ers a day after the referendum, out­side the Pres­i­den­tial Palace, in Ankara, Turkey on Mon­day.

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