Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Turkey's Erdogan says he's set to meet Trump in Washington

Turkey's Erdogan says he's set to meet Trump in Washington

The constitutional changes move Turkey from a parliamentary system of government to a presidential one. Turkey's main opposition party has filed a formal request seeking Sunday's referendum to be annulled because of alleged voting irregularities.

Worldwide monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the move undermined safeguards against fraud.

The Turkish opposition was particularly incensed by a decision by the YSK to allow voting papers without official stamps to be counted, which they said opened the way for fraud.

In March 2016, Brussels and Ankara agreed on a deal, under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants that had arrived to the European Union through the state's territory.

Erdogan, meanwhile, called the referendum "the most democratic election. ever seen in any Western country" and admonished the OSCE monitors to "know your place".

An estimated 100,000 people have been dismissed from their jobs with decrees and more than 40,000 arrested since the state of emergency came into effect on July 21. The president later called on citizens to take to the streets to show their opposition to the coup's plotters. The two largest opposition parties both challenged the referendum, saying it was deeply flawed.

PUMPED-UP POWERS Despite the extraordinary circumstances under which the referendum was held, the people have apparently given the green light for Erdogan to assume sweeping new powers. Mr. Erdogan will also be allowed to reassume leadership in the AK Party he co-founded, where under the existing order he is nominally commited to party neutrality. "Turkey is sliding towards a semi-authoritarian system under one-man rule".

The EU urges Turkish leaders to seek a "broad national consensus" and investigate the election irregularities reported by worldwide observers, the European Commission said on Tuesday (19 April).

Erdogan rejected accusations that he supported the new powers out of a desire to empower himself rather than improve Turkey's political system. Other changes are to be implemented sooner, including scrapping a requirement that the president not be a member of any political party.

In his victory speech, Erdogan said, "Now we will shift gear and go faster".

But Turkey's President has insisted that his plans to assume do not make him a dictator and that the changes were not about empowering him.

Hundreds of people queue in front of Turkey's Supreme Electoral Board in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

CHP chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu also said the government and the YSK had "staged a coup against the national will" in a posting on Twitter. This "was clearly a positive message to foreign markets in the short term", according to Kanli. "We look forward to continuing developing the traditionally good bilateral relations and relations with the European Union", the statement added.

"What matters for us is not so much the first reaction from whomever in Turkey, directed more at domestic politics, but whether the responsible Turkish authorities really deal seriously with the criticism voiced publicly by the OSCE election observer mission, which was meant seriously and researched seriously". These tensions have cast a shadow over the relationship and also raised questions over whether Turkey would take part in any US-led operation to oust IS jihadists from their de-facto capital of Raqa.

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