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Turkish opposition challenges presidential powers vote


Days after Turkey's election authority rejected a request to annul the referendum on boosting the president's powers, the country's main opposition party on Friday took its petition to the nation's highest administrative court.

The opposition party is contesting the results of Sunday's referendum due to a number of voting irregularities, in particular an electoral board decision to accept ballots without official stamps, contrary to Turkish law.

International monitors, including a team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have also noted irregularities in the voting that resulted in a narrow win for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "yes" camp.

Bulent Tezcan, a deputy chairman of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, told reporters the party was asking the Council of State to overturn the electoral board's controversial decision on the unstamped ballot papers.

Tezcan said it would also request that the election board not declare official results until the court's ruling.

"We are looking out for the votes of the whole of the 49 million people who cast votes," former CHP legislator and lawyer Atilla Kart said after he formally petitioned the Council of State. "We are not only protecting the votes of those who said 'no', but of those who said 'yes', too."

Asked to comment on the CHP's move, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the election authority's decision was final and that attempts to challenge it in the courts would be futile.

He also urged the opposition to respect the vote's outcomes.

"We went to the people," Yildirim said. "It is not right to correct the decision of the people by complaining to the courts. It is not a democratic way."

The international monitors noted that the electoral board's move to validate ballots without the official stamps removed an important safeguard against fraud and was "contrary to the law."

The board, however, published past rulings on the validity of unstamped ballots.

Unofficial results show Erdogan's "yes" campaign garnered 51.4 percent of the vote.


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