Trump congratulates Erdogan ignoring doubts over vote 'integrity'

Trump congratulates Erdogan ignoring doubts over vote 'integrity'
US President Donald Trump called Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, to congratulate him on his victory despite international doubts over the integrity of the vote.
3 min read
18 April, 2017
The US president congratulated Erdogan despite EU doubts over legitimacy [Getty]

Donald Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, to congratulate him on winning a referendum granting him sweeping new powers despite allegations surrounding 2.5 million 'manipulated' votes.

Trump's congratulations were in contrast with EU leaders who have been reserved in their reaction to the narrow victory that exposed bitter divisions in the country, and even his own State Department, which earlier noted concerns expressed by international observers over the "uneven playing field".

The US president called Erdogan to "congratulate him on his recent referendum victory" the White House said in a statement, despite widespread doubt over the voting process.

Turkey's opposition pressed its allegations of foul play in the referendum, suggesting the 51.41 percent ‘Yes’ camp won after alleged ‘blatant vote rigging’, with some suggesting it held no "democratic legitimacy”.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy leader Bulent Tezcan was due to formally request the annulment of the polls with the Supreme Election Board, the party said in a statement.

The changes, most of which are due to come into force after November 2019, are some of the most far-reaching in the country since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established the modern state in the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.

The opposition has been particularly incensed by a last minute move from the Supreme Election Board to accept ballot documents in envelopes without an official stamp.

In an interview with the Hurriyet daily, CHP chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that the YSK has "changed the rules of the game during the match".

"This is not something to be forgiven," he said.

Another CHP deputy leader, Erdal Aksunger, said there were violations at some 10,900 schools used as polling stations. "This has now reached another dimension," he said.

Meanwhile Erdogan angrily rejected the criticism, telling the monitors: "Know your place."

On Monday, Turkey's cabinet swiftly extended the country’s state of emergency for another three months after Erdogan’s victory.

The state of emergency, which has been renewed twice since being imposed after last July's failed coup against Erdogan, the deputy premier said.

The National Security Council, which is chaired by Erdogan, recommend the extension of the state of emergency.

Under the state of emergency, over 47,000 people have been arrested on suspicion of links to the coup while tens of thousands more people working in the public sector have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs.

Many are academics, police officers, journalists and teachers as well as judges and prosecutors. The crackdown has been heavily criticised by Turkey's Western allies.

Capital punishment may meanwhile make a comeback to Turkey, as hinted by the president during a speech to celebrate the referendum victory.

Agencies contributed to this report.