Donald Trump congratulates Turkish President Erdogan on controversial referendum victory

Paterniano Del Favero
Aprile 20, 2017

The "yes" camp won 51.41 percent in Sunday's referendum on a new presidential system and the "no" camp bagged 48.59 percent of the votes, according to near-complete results released by the election authorities.

They noted the "tight referendum results show how deeply divided Turkish society is" and called on Erdoğan to take responsibility for all citizens.

Supporters of the "no" vote protest in Istanbul, against the referendum outcome, Monday, April 17, 2017.

President Trump's phone call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulating him on the passage of a referendum expanding his governing powers was not an endorsement of the measure, the White House said Tuesday.

Addressing supporters in the presidential palace in Ankara, Mr Erdogan said that Turkey did not "see, hear or acknowledge the politically motivated reports" of the monitors. The validity of the vote - which will do away with Turkey's parliament and could allow Erdoğan to stay in power through 2029 - was challenged by the opposition party and worldwide election observers.

"The way president Trump is approaching these matters makes us happy", Mr Erdogan told CNN in an interview.

Opposition parties have complained of a series of irregularities, particularly an electoral board decision to accept ballots without official stamps, as required by Turkish law.

The mission of observers from the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights body, said the referendum was an uneven contest.

"HDP, CHP and Vatan Party appeals regarding the April 16 referendum were discussed separately and as a result of evaluations, the appeals were rejected with 10 votes against and 1 vote in favor", the electoral board said.

"The people's will has been reflected at the ballot box, and the debate is over", Yıldırım told his parliamentary group. In a further sign of nervousness about the referendum's implications for the migration pact, the commission's spokesman did not rule out visa-free travel coming to fruition for Turkey.

That also sparked protests from individuals who opposed constitutional changes granting Erdogan strengthened executive powers and who formed long queues to submit their petitions. Because if he also meant to congratulate him on the reforms - which also grant the Turkish dictator the power to bring back the death penalty - that surely does not bode well for the United States.

A government spokesperson said: "We will follow closely how Turkey behaves on this".

On Tuesday, Yildirim said Erdogan would be invited to join the party as soon as the official results are declared.

The US president also thanked Erdogan for supporting the US missile strike on a Syrian government airbase earlier this month.

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