Observers Question Turkish Referendum Result as U.S. Sends Mixed Signals
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Trump congratulates President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while State Department notes concerns.
International observers said a closely contested vote on Turkey’s presidential powers contravened Turkish law by changing rules on ballot-counting at the last minute, one of several alleged voting irregularities prompting domestic challenges and foreign criticism.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters hailed the unofficial results announced late Sunday as a win that expressed the will of the people, but the outcome was tight, with his “yes” side getting 51.2% of the vote and “no” 48.8%. In the referendum voters were asked to approve a constitutional amendment to centralize governing powers in the president’s office and radically alter Turkey’s democracy.
“All debate regarding the constitution is over. It’s clear what side the national will—our foundation—is on,” Mr. Erdogan said in a speech Monday.
Meanwhile, the U.S. sent mixed signals. President Donald Trump called Mr. Erdogan on Monday and congratulated him on the referendum outcome, U.S. and Turkish officials said.
The White House in a statement confirmed Mr. Trump had spoken with Mr. Erdogan “to congratulate him on his recent referendum victory and to discuss the United States’ action in response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on April 4th.” The White House also said Mr. Trump had thanked Mr. Erdogan for his support on Syria.
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