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Turkey arrests dozens in anti-referendum protests

21 April 2017

Police arrested at least 49 people at rallies held across Turkey against the constitutional changes giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers that were narrowly approved in a referendum, daily Hurriyet reported on Tuesday.

Prime Minister and AKP leader Binali Yildirim said Erdogan could rejoin the party he founded in 2001 once official results - expected before the end of the month - were announced.

He said the electoral board's last-minute decision to allow unstamped ballots had prevented proper record-keeping, meaning that it was now impossible to determine how many invalid or fake votes may have been counted.

The U.S. State Department said it had taken note of the European monitors' concerns and looked forward to a final report, urging the Turkish government to protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens, however they voted.

"Calling people to the street is wrong and is outside the line of legitimacy", Mr Yildirim said, adding that "we expect the main opposition party's leader to act more responsibly".

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Erdogan claimed victory on Sunday after a majority of Turkish voters appeared to have granted the president sweeping new powers.

A prosecutor will now consider whether to press charges against Guven.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the results of Turkish referendum should be respected.

A government spokesperson said: "We will follow closely how Turkey behaves on this".

Belgium has highest percentage of pro Erdogan voters in Europe. But the worldwide 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 past year.

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The German government has also questioned the vote after the European Union called for a probe into the result.

Erdogan lashed back at the global monitors' initial findings, telling them to "know their place", Reuters reported.

"Where dictatorships exist, you don't have to have a presidential system".

The European Union also urged a probe into the poll fraud claims after worldwide observers voiced concerns, but US President Donald Trump called his Turkish counterpart to offer his congratulations.

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