Trump congratulates Erdogan after contentious win

2017-04-18 08:54
In Istanbul, supporters of the No vote protest against the referendum outcome. (Emrah Gurel, AP)

In Istanbul, supporters of the No vote protest against the referendum outcome. (Emrah Gurel, AP)

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Washington - Ignoring concerns raised by international monitoring groups, President Donald Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to congratulate him on the country's contested referendum greatly expanding presidential powers.

The move comes despite protests from opposition parties and international monitoring groups - as well as Trump's own State Department - about voting irregularities during Sunday's referendum. And it aligns Trump with a leader who has taken on an increasingly authoritarian bent.

Voters on Sunday narrowly approved constitutional amendments that will replace Turkey's parliamentary system with a presidential one. Under the new system, the president will be able to appoint ministers and senior government officials, issue decrees and declare states of emergency.

Opposition parties have complained of a series of irregularities, including an electoral board decision to accept ballots that did not bear official stamps, as required by Turkish law. International monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the move undermined safeguards against fraud.

Earlier on Monday, US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner echoed the concerns raised by the OSCE, pointing to "observed irregularities" on voting day and "an uneven playing field" during the campaign.

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

Critics argue the reforms in Turkey will hand extensive power to a man with an increasingly autocratic bent and leave few checks and balances in place.

Read more on:    recep tayyip erdogan  |  donald trump  |  turkey  |  us

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