Turkey referendum: opposition vows challenge

Erdogan's supporters took to the streets to cheer, while opponents stayed indoors banging pots and pans in protest over the result, which heralds the biggest overhaul in Turkish politics since the founding of the modern republic - abolishing the prime minister's post and concentrating power in the presidency.

The "Yes" camp won 51.41 percent in Sunday's referendum, in a narrower than expected victory, according to complete results released by election authorities. Opponents accuse him of leading a drive toward one-man rule in Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member that borders Iran, Iraq and Syria and whose stability is of vital importance to the United States and the European Union.

He said the HDP was challenging the results in "hundreds" of ballot boxes.

Although the margin fell short of the sweeping victory Mr Erdogan had sought in the landmark referendum, it could nevertheless cement his hold on power in Turkey.

"President Trump thanked President Erdogan for supporting this action by the United States, and the leaders agreed on the importance of holding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accountable", the statement continued.

Tayyip Erdogan declared victory shortly after the mathematical chance of a turnaround faded, while opposition parties voiced their suspicions regarding fraud.

However, Erdogan was in no mood for conciliation, telling supporters in Istanbul: "There are those who are belittling the result". Erdogan reiterated his readiness to restore the death penalty at several appearances on Monday, which would effectively end Turkey's decades-long quest to join the EU.

"They have made us wait at the gates of the European Union for 54 years", Erdogan told his supporters at the presidential palace. "We are enacting the most important governmental reform of our history", he said.

The chairman of the State Duma's worldwide affairs committee said Russian Federation respected the right of the Turkish people to determine their constitutional system. "This country has carried out the most democratic elections, not seen anywhere in the West".

She said: "Our monitoring showed the "Yes" campaign dominated the media coverage and this, along with restrictions on the media, the arrests of journalists and the closure of media outlets, reduced voters' access to a plurality of views".

In March, the Venice Commission, a panel of legal experts at the Council of Europe, said the proposed changes to the constitution represented a "dangerous step backwards" for democracy.

"The referendum took place in a political environment in which fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed under the state of emergency, and the two sides did not have equal opportunities to make their case to the voters", said Tana de Zulueta of the global referendum observation mission.

Turkey's foreign ministry meanwhile denounced election observers' criticism that the referendum fell below worldwide standards, saying their remarks lacked objectivity and impartiality. The OSCE also said the vote did not meet standards set by the Council of Europe. "We are the voice, we are the ears, we are everything for the Middle East". Opposition parties announced they would challenge the count.

Although the decision was not unprecedented, the opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) has claimed that some 1.5 million unstamped votes were included in this way, far higher than previous totals and potentially enough to change the result.

"There is only one decision to ease the situation in the context of the law - the Supreme Election Board (YSK) should annul the election", the Dogan news agency quoted Bulent Tezcan as saying after the CHP alleged widespread violations in Sunday's poll.

The referendum was held with a state of emergency still in place, imposed after an attempted coup in July.

"The German government. respects the right of Turkish citizens to decide on their own constitutional order", Merkel and Gabriel, whose country has about 3 million residents of a Turkish background, said in a statement. Nevertheless, it could cement his hold on power in Turkey for a decade and is expected to have a huge effect on the country's long-term political future and its global relations.

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