Turkish opposition appeals referendum on Erdogan powers

Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:12pm GMT

By Gulsen Solaker and Tuvan Gumrukcu

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's main opposition party said it filed a court appeal on Friday against a decision by electoral authorities to accept unstamped ballot papers in the tightly contested referendum granting President Tayyip Erdogan wide new powers.

Preliminary referendum results gave a narrow 51.4 percent approval for the biggest overhaul of Turkey's political system since the modern state was established nearly a century ago, but opposition parties said the poll was deeply flawed.

Held under a state of emergency in place since a failed coup last July, it was criticised by European election observers who said the decision to allow unstamped ballot papers to be counted had removed a main safeguard against voting fraud.

All ballot papers should have been stamped by the electoral authority before voting started to show that they were valid.

Erdogan and government ministers have rejected criticism of the vote as politically motivated, and the High Electoral Board (YSK) dismissed on Wednesday challenges by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and two other opposition parties.

"We are filing an appeal to the council of state today demanding the cancellation of the YSK decision to accept unstamped ballots," CHP Deputy Chairman Bulent Tezcan said. The council of state is the judicial body which handles complaints and appeals against state and public institutions.

Tezcan also said the CHP would demand that the official results of the referendum be postponed until the case is resolved. The YSK had said on Sunday it would announce final results 11-12 days after the vote.

The CHP and the pro-Kurdish HDP party, which says millions of unstamped ballots were accepted, have said they could also appeal the referendum result at the European Court of Human Rights if their legal challenges fail in Turkish courts.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives at a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, April 16, 2017.   REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo
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