Erdogan Narrowly Wins Referendum for Executive Power

"In general, the referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards".

In a statement issued earlier on Monday, the department noted that in their preliminary assessment, worldwide observers raised concerns about "irregularities on voting day and an uneven playing field" during the campaign.

"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".

The fraud allegations stem from a decision by the board on Sunday to count as valid some 1.5 million ballots with no official stamp thus inciting anger of the opposition and drawing criticism from the worldwide observers.

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

Demonstrations against the outcome of a referendum expanding the president's powers are continuing in Istanbul, where protesters are demanding the resignation of the election board that has refused to void the vote.

While the majority of ballots cast in Turkey's controversial referendum have now been counted, the country's opposition has made it clear they will not accept the "yes" result without a fight.

The Council of Europe's observer mission said as many as 2.5 million votes might have been compromised and if so, the election result would have been changed.

Erdogan earlier congratulated cheering supporters at Ankara's airport for "standing tall" in the face of the "crusader mentality" of the West. Hundreds of demonstrators marched in a central neighbourhood, clanking pots and pans and chant.

Former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans, who spent four days in Turkey as an official global monitor, said there was clear evidence of the campaign being one-sided.

But the Cumhuriyet opposition daily focused on the alleged violations: "A shadow fell over the ballot boxes", it said.

The European Union opposed Erdogan's bid to shift the country to a system giving the president sweeping new powers.

The vote allows Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey first as prime minister and now as president since 2003, to fulfill his long-held ambition for a presidency with executive powers.

It also stressed that the two men stand together in battling Islamic State, also known as Isis: "President Trump and president Erdogan also discussed the counter-Isis campaign and the need to co-operate against all groups that use terrorism to achieve their ends". "We look forward to continuing developing the traditionally good bilateral relations and relations with the European Union", the statement added.

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