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Turkish president says constitutional amendments accepted in referendum

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

04-17-2017 07:05 BJT

ISTANBUL, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on Sunday night that the proposed constitutional changes were accepted in a referendum, paying the way for the country to introduce the presidential system.

In a televised address to the press in Istanbul, Erdogan said the amendments passed in the referendum held in the country the same day with 25 million "Yes" votes, or by leading the "No" camp by 1.3 million votes.

"Today Turkey made an historic decision about the governance system," he remarked, calling for countries that Turkey accepts as allies to "respect the decision of our nation."

The constitutional package voted on the day has 18 articles, the most controversial one being the switch to an executive presidency from the parliamentary system put in place ever since the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923.

The package shall grant the office of the presidency sweeping powers with less checks and balances, a scenario that has been rejected by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party.

CHP is calling for a recount after the initial result was unveiled, citing reported irregularities. Naysayers were protesting against the result in different districts of Istanbul on Sunday night, with some banging pots and pans from their windows and others holding a march.

Turkey will not turn to the presidential system until 2019, when Erdogan's current term ends and fresh parliamentary elections will be held concurrently.

In his later address to supporters, Erdogan said his first job after the victory is to discuss the reintroduction of death penalty and that another referendum on this issue is possible.

The issue of capital punishment was raised in the wake of a failed military coup in July last year, which the Turkish government says was masterminded by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric now living in the United States.

The European Union has responded by threatening to terminate the accession talks with Turkey in a row that has contributed to chilled bilateral ties.

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