US President Donald Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on winning a referendum granting him sweeping new powers.
The White House said it also discussed a US missile strike in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State group.
The referendum was seen as crucial not just for shaping Turkey’s political system, but also the future strategic direction of a nation that has been a NATO member since 1952 and a EU hopeful for half a century.
Erdogan said Turkey could hold further referendums on its EU bid and re-introducing the death penalty.
The “Yes” camp won 51.41 percent in Sunday’s referendum, according to complete results released by election authorities.
The opposition cried foul, claiming a clean vote would have made a difference of several percentage points and handed them victory.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said they would challenge the results from most ballot boxes due to alleged violations.
“There is only one decision to ease the situation in the context of the law — the Supreme Election Board (YSK) should annul the vote,” the Dogan news agency quoted CHP deputy leader Bulent Tezcan as saying.
The referendum has no “democratic legitimacy,” HDP spokesman and lawmaker Osman Baydemir told reporters in Ankara.
There were protests in Istanbul with a few thousand people crowding the anti-Erdogan Besiktas and Kadikoy districts, blowing whistles and chanting: “We are shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism.”
The opposition had already complained of an unfair campaign that saw the “Yes” backers swamp the airwaves and use billboards across the country in a saturation advertising campaign.
International observers said that the campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and that the vote count itself was marred by procedural changes that removed key safeguards.
“The legal framework ... remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum,” the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) monitors said in a statement.
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.
“Late changes in counting procedures removed an important safeguard,” said Cezar Florin Preda, head of the PACE delegation.
Erdogan said Turkey had no intention of paying any attention to the monitors’ report.
“This country held the most democratic polls that have never been seen in any other country in the West,” he said.
Erdogan earlier congratulated cheering supporters at Ankara’s airport for “standing tall” in the face of the “crusader mentality” of the West.
His Cabinet extended by another three months the already nine-month state of emergency imposed after a failed coup in July last year.
Erdogan reaffirmed he would now hold talks on reinstating capital punishment — a move that would automatically end Turkey’s EU bid — and would hold a referendum if it did not get enough votes in parliament to become law.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel said that if Ankara were to bring back the death penalty, the move would be “synonymous with the end of the European dream.”
In an interview in Bild newspaper to be published yesterday, he said that Turkey “joining would not work right now.”
Erdogan said Turkey could hold a referendum on the membership bid.
“What George, Hans or Helga say does not interest us,” he said, using typical European names.
Turkey’s new political system is due to come into effect after elections in November 2019, although Erdogan is expected to rapidly rejoin the ruling Justice Development Party (AKP) he founded, but had to leave when he became president.
It would dispense with the prime minister’s post and centralize the entire executive bureaucracy under the president, giving Erdogan the direct power to appoint ministers.
Erdogan’s victory was far tighter than expected, emerging only after several nail-biting hours late on Sunday that saw the “No” result dramatically catch up.
Turkey’s three largest cities — Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir — all voted “No” although “Yes” prevailed in Erdogan’s Anatolian heartland.
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500