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Turkish opposition challenges presidential powers vote

/ 09:31 PM April 21, 2017
Banners - Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Recep Tayyip Erdogan - 3 April 2017

n this photo, taken April 3, 2017, banners showing modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (left) and Turkey’s current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) decorate a building as people watch Erdogan’s speech, during a rally for the upcoming referendum, in his hometown city of Rize, in the Black Sea region, Turkey. The personality cult that grew around Ataturk has very gradually been fading as current President Erdogan, in power since 2003 as alternately prime minister and president, has harked back to the glory days of the height of the Ottoman Empire to whip up patriotic sentiment. (Photo by LEFTERIS PITARAKIS / AP)

ANKARA, Turkey — Days after Turkey’s election authority rejected a request to annul the referendum on boosting the president’s powers, the country’s main opposition party said Friday it would apply to the nation’s highest administrative court.

The opposition party is contesting the results of Sunday’s referendum due to a number of voting irregularities, in particular an electoral board decision to accept ballots without official stamps, contrary to Turkish law.

International monitors, including from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have also noted irregularities in the voting that resulted in a narrow win for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “yes” camp.

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Bulent Tezcan, a deputy chairman of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, told reporters the party would seek a cancellation of the electoral board’s controversial decision on the unstamped ballot papers at the Council of State.

Tezcan said it would also request that the election board not declare official results until the court’s ruling.

Asked to comment on the CHP’s move, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the election authority’s decision was final and that attempts to challenge it in the courts would be futile.

The also urged the opposition to respect the vote’s outcomes.

“We went to the people,” Yildirim said. “It is not right to correct the decision of the people by complaining to the courts, it is not a democratic way.”

The international monitors noted that the electoral board’s decision to validate ballots without the official stamps removed an important safeguard against fraud and was “contrary to the law.”

The board, however, published past rulings on the validity of unstamped ballots.

Unofficial results show Erdogan’s “yes” campaign garnered 51.4 percent of the vote.

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TAGS: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey presidential powers, Turkish referendum
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