Turkey's supreme election board rejects opposition referendum annulment bid


Turkey's electoral authority on Wednesday rejected appeals to annul a referendum granting President Tayyip Erdogan wide new powers, but the main opposition CHP party said it would maintain its legal challenge to the result.

Prime Minister and AKP leader Binali Yildirim said Erdogan can rejoin the party he founded in 2001 once official results of the plebiscite, granting him sweeping powers, are announced.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy leader Bulent Tezcan formally requested that the Supreme Election Board (YSK) cancel the result.

To the dismay of opposition parties and "No" supporters, the YSK made a last-minute decision on Sunday to accept ballot documents in envelopes without an official stamp.

The referendum asked voters to choose "yes" or "no" on 18 constitutional amendments, one that will see the country switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

In contrast to the tensions with the EU, Trump called Erdogan to "congratulate him on his recent referendum victory", the White House said in a statement.

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The mission of observers from the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights body, said the referendum was an uneven contest. "From the German government's point of view, Turkey must ... clear up the questions that have been raised".

A government spokesperson said: "We will follow closely how Turkey behaves on this".

Returning in triumph to his presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan angrily rejected the criticism, telling the monitors: "Know your place".

A spokesman for European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said claims from neutral observers of election irregularities had been "examined attentively" in Brussels.

The European Union also urged a probe into the poll fraud claims after global observers voiced concerns, but US President Donald Trump called his Turkish counterpart to offer his congratulations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded to the report earlier on Wednesday, saying it has "no reliability as their observations lack objectivity and are extremely partial".

Erdogan's critics say the reforms will create a system of one-man rule by eliminating democratic checks and balances.