Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:27PM
File photo shows Bulent Tezcan, the deputy chairman of Turkey’s main opposition, Republican People's Party (CHP). (Photo by Anadolu news agency)
File photo shows Bulent Tezcan, the deputy chairman of Turkey’s main opposition, Republican People's Party (CHP). (Photo by Anadolu news agency)

Turkey’s main opposition, the Republican People's Party (CHP), has called for the annulment of the results of a referendum on changes to the country’s constitution, which would grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extensive executive powers. 

Bulent Tezcan, a CHP deputy chairman, told reporters at the party's headquarters in the capital, Ankara, that the party had received complaints from many regions that people had been unable to vote in privacy, and that some ballots were counted in secret.

He also lambasted the last-minute decision by the High Electoral Board (YSK) to accept unstamped ballots as valid, arguing that the measure clearly ran counter to the law.

“At the moment it is impossible to determine how many such votes there are and how many were stamped later. This is why the only decision that will end debate about the legitimacy (of the vote) and ease the people's legal concerns is the annulment of this election by the High Electoral Board,” Tezcan pointed out.

The senior Turkish opposition figure further noted that the CHP would submit complaints to municipal election authorities and the YSK, and would turn to the Constitutional Court of Turkey, the European Human Court of Rights and any other relevant authorities once the result of those appeals were released.

A woman, supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, waves a Turkish national flag as she celebrates during a rally near the headquarters of the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) on April 16, 2017 in Istanbul after the results of a constitutional referendum were out. (Photo by AFP)

The remarks came as the ‘Yes’ campaign won 51.18 percent of the votes during Sunday’s referendum, while the 'No' campaign gained 48.82 percent, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkish-language nationwide news channel, Haberturk, put the turnout at 86 percent.

Meanwhile, Mustafa Elitas, parliamentary faction chief of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on Monday that Erdogan was set to rejoin his conservative political party.

“We will offer membership to Erdogan after April 27-28,” Elitas told private NTV television news network.

Erdogan had to severe his ties with the AKP after being elected president in 2014. He adopted the decision under the impartiality principle of the constitution. The Sunday constitutional referendum, however, opened the way for a party-affiliated president.

Turkish vote on death penalty to 'break with European values'

On Monday, the French president's office warned Turkey against any return of the capital punishment in the country after the Turkish president said he would seek to reinstate death penalty “without any hesitation” after the April 16 constitutional referendum.

“The organization of a referendum on the death penalty would obviously be a break with (the) values and engagements” that Turkey accepted when it joined the Council of Europe, Europe's top rights watchdog, the presidency said in a statement.

A woman votes in a constitutional referendum on expanding the powers of the Turkish president at a polling station in Ankara, Turkey, on April 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The statement added that the French presidency had taken note of the figures from the referendum and the "disputes" surrounding them, saying Erdogan’s narrow victory showed that “Turkish society is divided over the proposed deep reforms.”

On March 19, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that capital punishment was a "red line" in Ankara’s stalled bid for membership in the 28-member bloc.

“If the death penalty is reintroduced in Turkey, it would lead to the end of negotiations," he said in an interview with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag

Turkey has been attempting to become part of the EU for decades. Formal EU accession negotiations, however, began in 2005. The process has been mired in problems, and only 16 chapters of the 35-chapter accession procedure have been opened for Ankara so far.

In November last year, the European Parliament suspended the accession talks with Ankara over concerns regarding human rights and the rule of law following the July 15 coup attempt against Erdogan, which Ankara claims was organized by the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. In January, Turkey called on the EU to resume the negotiations.

Kremlin: Turkey’s referendum results should be respected

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Monday that the results of Turkish referendum on expanding presidential powers needed to be respected.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov 

“The referendum is absolutely a sovereign affair of the Turkish republic. We believe that everyone should respect the expression of will of the Turkish people,” Peskov pointed out.

European monitors voice concern about Turkey referendum

Meanwhile, representatives from two European bodies have voiced concern about Turkey’s referendum.

(L-R) Tana de Zulueta, head of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and Cezar Florin Preda with Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) attend a news conference on Turkey’s referendum on April 17, 2017.  

"The legal framework... remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum," the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) monitors said in a joint statement on Monday.

The referendum campaign was conducted on an "unlevel playing field" and the vote count itself was marred by the late procedural changes that removed key safeguards, the observers said, pointing to the move by the election authorities to allow voting documents without an official stamp.

The announcement elicited Turkey’s sharp retort with Ankara slamming international observers' "biased" and "unacceptable" criticism on the its constitutional referendum.

"The initial findings in question are a reflection of a biased and prejudiced approach," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Foreign Ministry added that it was "unacceptable" for European bodies to state that the poll fell short of international standards.

Erdogan to OSCE: Know your place

Later on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed a gathering of his supporters outside the presidential palace in Ankara, warning international monitors to "know your place."

"Know your place first," Erdogan said addressing OSCE monitors, adding, "We neither see, hear, nor know those politically-motivated reports that you will draft."

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, April 17, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Erdogan also told the gathering that Turkey could hold a referendum on its EU membership bid after the vote on expanding the president's powers.

"For 54 years, what did they make us do at the EU's door? Wait!" Erdogan said.

Reacting to threats by EU leaders to freeze Turkey’s accession talks, he added, "We will sit down and talk, and we can hold a referendum for that (EU bid) too!"

Turkey likely to extend state of emergency

Moreover, Turkey's government is set to extend for another three months a state of emergency imposed across the country after the botched putsch.

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli told A Haber television news network that the National Security Council is scheduled to meet on Monday to recommend the renewal of the measure, which expires on April 19.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli (Photo by Anadolu news agency)

The extension would then be endorsed by Erdogan following a cabinet meeting chaired by him.

Turkey introduced the state of emergency on July 20, following a coup attempt by a group of military officers. More than 270 people were killed in incidents surrounding the July 15 coup attempt.

The state of emergency has allowed the government to launch a harsh crackdown on those believed to have played a role in the failed coup.