Pakistan extends felicitations to Turkey on referendum

Turkey has also suffered renewed violence between Kurdish militants and security forces in the country's volatile southeast, as well as a string of bombings, some attributed to the Islamic State group, which is active across the border in Syria.

President Tayyip Erdogan with his wife Emine in Istanbul.

Sigmar Gabriel and Angela Merkel.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory Sunday night after a majority of Turkish voters appeared to have granted the president sweeping new powers. The Council of Europe, which Turkey belongs to, raised concerns that the changes may weaken checks and balances that could stop the country becoming an authoritarian regime.

Giving a speech to a crowd of spectators who had assembled at the provincial headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, Çavuşoğlu said, "As of now, there is a new Turkey".

As Mr Erdogan's supporters celebrated on the streets of Istanbul with fireworks, the Republican People's Party said "illegal acts" were carried out in favour of the government in the referendum.

Republic People's Party, or CHP, deputy chairman Erdal Aksunger predicted that the figure could even increase to 60 per cent.

The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party also pledged to challenge the vote.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu lambasted foreign countries for attempting to influence the referendum as he cast his vote in the southern province of Antalya.

Opponents had argued the constitutional changes give too much power to a man who they say has shown increasingly autocratic tendencies.

The package of 18 amendments would abolish the office of prime minister and give the president the authority to draft the budget, declare a state of emergency and issue decrees overseeing ministries without parliamentary approval.

Surprisingly, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir - the country's three major cities - voted "no".

Erdogan also thanked the "yes"- voters supporting political party leaders and the voters on the referendum victory. It was passed by the Parliament in January with 339 votes in favour.

He said the YSK had chose to consider unstamped ballots as valid unless they were proved to be fraudulent, after a high number of complaints - including one from the ruling AK Party - that its officials had failed to stamp some ballot papers.

The board said it had changed the rules after receiving complaints from voters that they were given voting papers in envelopes without its stamp. More than 100,000 people have been fired or arrested, including more than 100 journalists.

Saying that Turkey's new government system would be put into practice in the 2019 general elections, Yildirim said: "Our nation made its choice, and it confirmed the presidential system".

The European Union statement, issued by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and two other top officials, said the EU executive took note of the result and was awaiting an assessment of an global observation mission "also with regard to alleged irregularities". Hundreds of media outlets and nongovernmental organizations have been shut down.

  • Leroy Wright