martedì 18 aprile 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on getting a Yes vote in a referendum that will expand his presidential powers, the White House said on April 17......
U.S. President Donald Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on getting a Yes vote in a referendum that will expand his presidential powers, the White House said on April 17.
The call came despite concerns raised earlier by the U.S. State Department, European voting monitors, and opposition parties in Turkey about major voting irregularities, including a last-minute decision by Turkish authorities to allow more than a million unstamped votes to be counted. The referendum passed with 51.4 percent of the vote on April 16.
Erdogan's critics say the reforms will hand extensive power to a man with an increasingly autocratic bent and leave few democratic checks and balances in place.
WATCH: Monitors Say Turkish Vote Fell Short Of International Standards
In its statement on the vote, the State Department urged Turkey to respect diverse viewpoints and "maintain a meaningful political dialogue" with opposition parties.
"We look to the government of Turkey to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all its citizens, regardless" of how they voted, it said. "The United States remains committed to strengthening our bilateral relationship [and] continues to support Turkey's democratic development, to which commitment to the rule of law and a diverse and free media remain essential."
Protests In Turkish Cities
Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul and other Turkish cities to protest the results of the referendum.
At least 1,000 protesters thronged Besiktas on the European side of Istanbul late on April 17, while on the Asian side, around 2,000 demonstrators marched through Kadikoy, another secular, anti-Erdogan neighborhood.
Smaller protests were held in Ankara, Izmir, and other Turkish cities. Turkish media reported that 13 people were detained in a protest in the Mediterranean city of Antalya.
The protesters expressed anger about the last-minute changes to the referendum voting procedures and the electoral board decision to recognize ballots cast without the official stamp as being valid.
Hayir Besiktas, the group that called for the demonstration, said "We are against fraud, injustice, and stolen votes."
The main opposition Republican People's Party and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party said they would challenge the results, with the Kurdish party saying it has complaints about the unstamped ballots affecting 3 million voters -- more than twice the margin of Erdogan's victory.
"Thief, murderer, Erdogan," the protesters in Kadikoy chanted, as they marched towards the offices of the Supreme Election Board. "We will not make you president" and "We are shoulder to shoulder against fascism."
Protesters carried signs saying "The 'No' is not finished" and "'No' has won."
In homes lining the route of the protest, people bashed pots and pans with kitchen utensils from the windows of their apartments to show solidarity.
Police generally kept a low profile on the sidelines of the protest, but warned against using offensive slogans.
Erdogan in a speech at the presidential palace in Ankara mocked the protesters' banging on pots and pans, and said most people were satisfied with the referendum results.
State Of Emergency
The protests came as Turkey's Council of Ministers moved to extend for another three months a state of emergency declared in the wake of a failed July 2016 coup.
Government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said the extension would go into effect on April 19, when the previous state of emergency is scheduled to expire.
The extension first must go to parliament, however, for approval. The state of emergency grants greater powers to security forces to detain people perceived to be working against the government, including journalists, judges, and academics.
Erdogan has used the state of emergency to crack down on supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who he accuses of orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt. Gulen denies any involvement.