Trump congratulates Erdogan on referendum win: Turkish state media

Following Sunday's hotly contested referendum that narrowly granted Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers, opposition parties, as well as global observers, are decrying the vote as illegitimate.

He survived a coup attempt a year ago and responded with a crackdown, jailing 47,000 people and sacking or suspending more than 120,000 from government jobs such as schoolteachers, soldiers, police, judges or other professionals.

"The rule of the match cannot be changed while the match is being played, which is an universal rule", Kilicdaroglu said late on Sunday, claiming that the electoral board illegitimately changed the rules after the end of voting.

The main opposition party has said it will challenge the result on the basis of irregularities-including the use of unstamped ballot papers-but the head of the country's electoral body has said the result is valid.

In an indication more strife with Brussels could be in the offing, Erdogan said he would now hold talks on reinstating capital punishment, a move that would automatically end Turkey's European Union bid.

Turkey's opposition parties are bracing for a long and arduous struggle for democracy.

The historic referendum, which passed by a narrow margin, grants more power to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who promised when he was elected in 2014 to be a "different kind of president".

Addressing thousands of flag-waving supporters on Sunday night, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the unofficial final result is "yes" for the constitutional referendum.

Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party, claimed the decision was made after it appeared the "no" votes were ahead of the "yes" votes, and that initial counting of the ballots happened in secret. "They shouldn't try, it will be in vain".

Erdogan has said concentrating power in the hands of the president is vital to prevent instability. Since now, the prime ministerial power planned to be abolished and replaced with a presidential scheme. The amendments to the constitution are likely to allow Erdogan to hold office for two more terms until 2029.

He said: "The result will depend on how far the opposition will take their claim of irregularity in the voting, and what the global reaction will be".

The changes would come into effect with the next general elections, scheduled for 2019.

"I suspect the result was narrower than what Erdogan expected", said Howard Eissenstat, associate professor of Middle East History at St. Lawrence University in the United States.

The current president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, tweeted on Monday that he was "very concerned" by the possibility of a referendum on reintroducing the death penalty. Senior EU officials - EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn - said they "take note of the reported results" and were awaiting a report from worldwide election observers.

  • Leroy Wright