Turkey minister rejects European Union call for probe into vote

Supporters of President Erdogan wave national flags in Ankara

Opposition CHP head Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused the electoral board of bias and of favoring the governing party. Election observers said they got little help investigating charges of fraud.

Supporters of the "no" vote, (Hayir in Turkish) chant slogans during a protest against the referendum outcome, in Istanbul, Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

The Supreme Election Board on Wednesday rejected petitions submitted by three political parties, including the main opposition Republican People's Party, to cancel Sunday's referendum result on the grounds that malpractices existed including allowing unsealed ballot papers to be accepted as valid in the counting, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

"Thief, murderer, Erdogan", shouted some of the thousands of demonstrators in Istanbul's Besiktas district, while similar protests took place in the capital, Ankara, Izmir and cities across the country.

According to the spokesperson for the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, the call came after Turkey rejected worldwide observers' criticism of the referendum on Sunday.

"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.

Global election monitors, including from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also 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.

The pro-Kurdish opposition HDP, which had appealed along with the CHP for the referendum to be annulled, said the late decision by the electoral board to allow unstamped ballots meant it was impossible to determine how many invalid or fake votes may have been counted.

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

In turn, the European Commission has called on Turkey to launch a transparent investigation into the election irregularities.

"It is clear that the High Electoral Board is not receiving its power from the people, the law or the constitution but rather from a specific center, a specific political authority", he told his party's lawmakers during a speech in Ankara Tuesday.

Despite concern from overseas, two world leaders - US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin - have called Erdogan to congratulate him on the result.

Presidents Trump and Erdogan "also discussed the counter-ISIS campaign and the need to cooperate against all groups that use terrorism to achieve their ends", according to the White House readout.

In the same segment, Erdogan brushed aside allegations of creeping authoritarianism, saying: "This is not a system belonging to Tayyip Erdogan".

However, opposition parties said the exercise was marred by irregularities, adding that they would challenge its result.



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