ISTANBUL: Turkey’s top election authority on Wednesday rejected an opposition bid to annul the referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers after complaints of vote-rigging, state media reported.
Ten members of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) decided against annulling the vote, while only one voted in favour, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had on Tuesday requested the poll be scrapped due to alleged violations.
The ‘Yes’ camp won 51.41 per cent in Sunday’s referendum in a narrower-than-expected victory but the opposition claimed the outcome would have been reversed in a fair poll.
Bulent Tezcan, CHP deputy leader, said the YSK decision sparked a “serious legitimacy crisis,” in an interview with CNN-Turk television. “We will activate all legal channels,” he said, adding that the party would map out its policy after meeting legal experts on Thursday.
Leftist activists detained after ‘No’ protests
Istanbul police detained 16 leftist activists involved in demonstrations against the ‘Yes’ victory in the referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers, a laywer said.
There have been daily street protests in anti-Erdogan neighbourhoods in Istanbul since Sunday’s referendum, which the opposition claims was marred by blatant vote rigging. The Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP), a left-wing movement not represented in parliament, said police had detained its Istanbul chairman Mesut Gecgel on accusations of “agitating the public” by claiming the ‘Yes’ vote was illegitimate.
Gecgel had himself written on Twitter that he was being detained for protesting against the ‘Yes’ victory. Gecgel’s lawyer Deniz Demirdogen told AFP that anti-terror police raided houses of the suspects before dawn, saying 16 people were detained so far but arrest warrants were issued for a total of 38 people.
Describing the accusations as “strange”, he added: “They are accused of provoking people to question the legitimacy of the ‘Yes’ in the referendum. “But there’s no such crime definition in the penal code.”
Demirdogen said those detained were being questioned at police headquarters in Istanbul and were awaiting a decision by prosecutors on the case. There was no immediate confirmation of the detentions by the police.
Speaking in Ankara earlier, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the issue of the election result was closed and warned against street protests. “Turkey is a state of law ... and there can be no talk of anarchy, activities in the street,” he said. “I call on people not to give in to provocations or get caught up in incitement,” he added.
Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2017