EU calls on Turkey to investigate referendum fraud allegations

April 18 (UPI) — The European Commission has called on Turkey to launch an investigation into allegations of voting irregularities following a report stating its referendum was not genuinely democratic.

The European Commission’s request is a direct response to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe election monitor’s preliminary conclusion in which it said Turkey’s referendum was not impartial and instead favored President Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid “limitations on fundamental freedoms.”

The European Commission said it has “taken note and examined attentively” the OSCE’s report.

“There is serious concern regarding the broader environment in which the referendum took place: the lack of equal opportunities, the one-sided media coverage and limitations on fundamental freedoms did not create a level playing field and the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Erdogan claimed victory on Sunday after a majority of Turkish voters appeared to have granted the president sweeping new powers. But the international electoral monitor said that while the referendum’s technical processes were well administered, there were key issues related to media coverage and the circumstances under which the vote occurred, such as Turkey’s ongoing state of emergency enacted after a failed coup d’etat attempt last year.

With more than 99 percent of the ballots counted, 51.34 percent of people said “yes” to increase Erdogan’s powers compared with 48.667 percent that cast “no” votes. The results have yet to be validated.

“In view of the report … the close referendum result and the far-reaching implications of the constitutional amendments, we call on the Turkish authorities to consider the next steps very carefully and to seek the broadest possible national consensus in the follow-up to the referendum,” the European Commission added. “We call on all actors to show restraint and on the authorities to launch transparent investigations into alleged irregularities.”

Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, has vowed to contest irregularities with Turkey’s Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. It also called on the Supreme Election Board to annul the referendum results.

Under the new authority, Erodgan will be able to appoint Cabinet ministers, issue decrees, choose senior judges and dissolve parliament, the Grand National Assembly. The change would also lower the minimum age for lawmakers from 25 to 18, increase the number of seats in parliament from 550 to 600, close down military courts, and introduce same-day parliamentary and presidential elections every five years.

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