Turkey referendum votes could have been manipulated: Electoral observers

Ankara: Up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated during Turkey's presidential referendum, a number that if revised could reverse the "Yes" outcome of the vote, a Council of Europe (CoE) electoral observer announced on Tuesday.

 Turkey referendum votes could have been manipulated: Electoral observers

A file image of Erdogan. Reuters

Several institutions, including monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said Sunday's referendum to greatly expand the president's power did not meet democratic standards, Efe news reported.

Alev Korun, an Austrian Green politician who was on the observer mission at the CoE, said that "there is a suspicion that up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated".

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party said it was to formally request the referendum to be annulled.

The party had previously demanded a partial recount of the 2.5 million ballot papers that were accepted by the Supreme Electoral Council as valid despite being unstamped.

Any official challenge regarding the 2.5 million papers would be a threat to the "Yes" camp, which edged past "No" voters by a slim margin of 1.25 million.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) penned and campaigned for a "Yes" vote, has already claimed victory and later received a congratulatory phone call from US President Donald Trump.

Korun said she herself did not witness any irregularities in the voting process, but that two of her colleagues had been denied entry to a polling station in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, in the country's restive southeast.

The "Yes" campaign claimed 51.4 percent of a vote in favour of an 18-point overhaul of the constitution that is to scrap the role of PM and hand almost all executive power to the president.

But many officials have raised their concerns about the environment in which the vote was held.

On Monday, head of the OSCE observation mission for the referendum, Tana de Zulueta, said there was a lack of impartiality in the run-up to Sunday's vote as the "Yes" campaign was given the chance to dominate media coverage, while the other side was restricted and many journalists were arrested.

Several governments in Europe have called on Erdogan to prove that the election was conducted fairly and cleanly by cooperating fully with international observers.

Updated Date: Apr 18, 2017 16:58:10 IST