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While President Buhari praises Turkish referendum, European Union calls for transparent investigations

While President Buhari praises Turkish referendum, European Union calls for transparent investigations

YSK Chairman Sadi Guven said on Monday the last-minute decision to allow unstamped ballots was not unprecedented as the government had previously permitted such a move.

The referendum approves 18 constitutional amendments that will replace Turkey's parliamentary system of governance with a presidential one.

The plan, put forward by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), gives Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping and largely unchecked powers. The assessment drew a harsh rebuke from Erdogan and criticism from Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. The official results will be delivered in about ten days, after any objections have been considered.

"Calling people to the street is wrong and is outside the line of legitimacy", Yildirim said, adding that "we expect the main opposition party's leader to act more responsibly".

"The AK Party is increasingly failing to attract the voters of big cities", said Murat Gezici, head of pollster Gezici, which correctly predicted the outcome of the referendum.

The Turkish opposition was particularly incensed by a decision by the YSK to allow voting papers without official stamps to be counted, which they said opened the way for fraud.

The stamps were required to avoid "ballot-stuffing" - where extra votes are cast illegally to manipulate results - and unstamped ballots had been dismissed as invalid in earlier votes.

Worldwide observers agreed the campaign was conducted on an "unlevel playing field" and that the vote count itself was marred by procedural changes that removed key safeguards. Global observers said the referendum was not up to standard, calling the government out on biased media coverage as well as the lack of freedom of information and independent oversight. Tana de Zulueta, head of the observer mission, told reporters that the group had paid a courtesy call and held a "cordial" meeting with electoral board members.

But confidence has been dented by the worsening ties with Europe, mounting concerns about political freedom and civil rights after last year's failed coup, a resurgent conflict with Kurdish militants, and the threat from Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

"I am a mortal really, I could die at any time", he told CNN's Becky Anderson inside Ankara's presidential palace Tuesday, in his first interview since the vote.

Unlike the Nigerian leader, the European Union on Tuesday called on Turkish authorities to launch "transparent investigations" after global observers criticised the fairness of the voting process during the recent referendum. "We will follow closely how Turkey behaves on this".

Under the revised constitution, Erdogan will be able to abolish the post of Prime Minister and assume broad new powers to rule by decree.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, ignored the concerns about voting irregularities and congratulated Erdogan on his referendum victory.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Erdogan and Trump would meet in person next month, before a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit. Cavusoglu said that he and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would finalize the date according to the two presidents' schedules.


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