Turkey's justice minister: Time to contest vote results over

AP News
Posted: Apr 22, 2017 11:08 AM
Turkey's justice minister: Time to contest vote results over

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey's ruling party and the main opposition party kept up their fight Saturday over the results of the referendum on expanding the president's powers.

In a series of tweets Saturday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag slammed the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) for continuing to object to the results of the April 16 referendum due to voting irregularities, saying that judicial paths to reverse the ruling are shut.

The CHP fired back, saying he was threatening the judiciary in order to get them to rule against the party's case.

Unofficial results show the "yes" campaign for transforming Turkey's parliamentary government system into a presidential one garnered 51.4 percent of the vote. Official results by the electoral board are expected next week.

Bozdag said all decisions on electoral issues, including complaints and fraud allegations, are in the purview of Turkey's electoral board.

"Applications against the High Electoral Board's decisions cannot be taken to any court or authority, including the Council of State and the Constitutional Court," he tweeted. Bozdag said these judicial organs would "have no choice but to reject" such applications based on Turkish laws.

"No court can undo/change the decisions of the nation," he tweeted.

The opposition on Friday appealed to the Council of State — the nation's highest administrative court — seeking to overturn the electoral board's controversial decision validating unstamped ballot papers.

Earlier in the week, the electoral board rejected a request to annul the referendum by a 10-1 vote.

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CHP lawmaker Levent Gok told reporters on Saturday that Bozdag's tweets mean the justice minister "put pressure on the judges, instructed them and threatened them." Gok called this "a top-down legal massacre," while promising to pursue a legal process to void the "questionable" referendum result.

International monitors say the electoral board's decision removed an important safeguard against fraud and was "contrary to Turkish law." The electoral board, however, published past rulings on the validity of unstamped ballots.

CHP officials said they would contest the ruling at the Constitutional Court and if necessary, the European Court of Human Rights.