Turkish opposition protests in Istanbul against expanding Erdogan’s powers


Anti-government demonstrators shout slogans during a protest in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul, Turkey, April 17, 2017. © Kemal Aslan/Reuters

Hundreds of supporters of the ‘No’ campaign and Turkey’s main opposition party protested in Istanbul on Sunday against the narrow victory in last week’s vote on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

The ‘Yes’ camp won 51.41 percent in last Sunday’s referendum in a tighter-than-expected win, but opponents claim the result would have been reversed in a fair poll.

Nearly 1,000 people made up of supporters from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) demonstrated in Taksim square on the western side of Istanbul against the result and to mark a public holiday, AFP reported.

The protest took place on the 97th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish parliament, known as National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.

Across the Bosphorus, in the district of Kadikoy, hundreds more protested carrying placards saying: “The ‘No’ hasn’t finished, it’s only just begun” and “No, we won”.

The tight result has been disputed by the opposition after the top election authority known as the Supreme Election Board (YSK) made a last-minute decision on Sunday to accept ballot documents in envelopes without an official stamp.

But the CHP had its bid with two other parties to annul the referendum rejected by the YSK last week. The party also launched a legal challenge in the country’s top administrative court on Friday in a bid to cancel the YSK decision on the ballots which opponents argue opened the way for fraud.

On Sunday, parliament held a special session for the holiday which resulted in heated debates between CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Yildirim defended the changes, saying it would “further strengthen the parliament” and had been prepared by people’s representatives who then took it to the people to decide, NTV broadcaster reported.

Kurdish party rejects outcome of Turkish referendum

Last week, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also announced that the outcome of Turkey’s presidential referendum is not final, accusing the ruling government party of fraud after Turkish President Erdogan won the referendum.

“Whether the official announcement is Yes or No, we will object to 2/3 of ballots. Our data indicates a manipulation in the range of 3-4%,” HDP spokesman Osman Baydemir said.

“This is a manipulation on public perception, and casts a shadow on the validity of the results. What percentage of unstamped ballots was Yes, and what was No? The answer to this question alone will expose the extent of the controversy,” Baydemir said.

“We announce to the public that, until our objections receive a full response, the outcome of the referendum is not final,” he concluded.

The referendum’s results will keep Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in power until 2029.

Turkish opposition parties strongly condemned the results, vowing to challenge the results.


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