Europe to Turkey: Reach out to 49 percent whom opposed referendum

Riot police officers stand guard outside the Supreme Electoral Board in Ankara

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on Monday commending a tight win in a choice giving him clearing new powers that uncovered intense divisions in Turkey and left enraged adversaries requesting a noteworthy describe.

Just as polls were closing Sunday in Turkey for a referendum on constitutional amendments that would broaden the president's powers, the country's election authority took an unusual step: It lifted a rule requiring that each ballot have an official seal.

Erdogan was elected president in August 2014 after more than a decade as prime minister, in the first ever direct election for a Turkish head of state.

They set a limit of two five-year terms for presidents and also allow the president to remain at the helm of a political party.

Erdogan and his supporters say the changes are needed to amend the current constitution, written by generals following a 1980 military coup, confront the security and political challenges Turkey faces, and avoid the fragile coalition governments of the past. However, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has demanded a recount of 60% of the votes and its deputy head has called for the result to be annulled altogether.

Responding to chants from the crowd to reinstate the death penalty, Erdogan said he would take up the issue with the country's political leaders, adding that the question could be put to another referendum if the political leaders could not agree.

While voting was underway, the YSK declared that it would count ballots that had not been stamped by its officials as valid unless they could be proved fraudulent.

But the Cumhuriyet opposition daily focused on the alleged violations: "A shadow fell over the ballot boxes", it said.

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"The rule of the match cannot be changed while the match is being played, which is an universal rule", Kilicdaroglu said late on Sunday, claiming that the electoral board illegitimately changed the rules after the end of voting.

Western nations have expressed concerns about the referendum, saying it would give too many powers to the president, such as directly appointing ministers and high court judges.

Global observers from the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said 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.

Opposition parties still cried foul.

Sunday's referendum asked voters to choose "Yes" or "No" on an 18-article bill that would see the country switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system, among other changes. Supporters of the "no" vote have complained of intimidation, including beatings, detentions and threats.

The new presidential system takes effect at the next election, now slated for 2019.

CHP legislator Utku Cakirozer told The Associated Press his party would file official objections Monday to results at local electoral board branches, before taking their case to the Supreme Electoral Board. Moreover, it said the work of the electoral boards lacked transparency.

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