Turkey's cabinet accepts advice of National Security Council to extend the state of emergency that has been in place since a coup attempt last July by three more months.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters upon his arrival at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, April 17, 2017.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters upon his arrival at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, April 17, 2017.

Turkey has extended measures aimed at securing the rights and freedoms of citizens which have been in place since July last year following a deadly coup attempt by three more months.

The cabinet convened on Monday to announce its decision on the matter after the extension was recommended by the National Security Council.

The decision came shortly after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in the capital Ankara on Monday to meet with the council and Turkey's cabinet a day after Turkish citizens voted in favour of constitutional reform.

He was greeted by thousands of supporters at the airport. Addressing his supporters, Erdogan delivered a message of national unity and reminded people of the national elections in March and November 2019.

Erdogan on Sunday declared victory for the "yes" vote in the referendum, the biggest political overhaul in Turkey's modern history, but opponents said the vote was marred by irregularities and they would challenge its result.

The "yes" camp won 51.41 percent in Sunday's referendum on a new presidential system and the "no" camp bagged 48.59 percent of the votes, according to near-complete results released by the election authorities.

But Erdogan's victory was far tighter than expected, emerging only after several nail-biting hours late Sunday which saw the "no" result dramatically catch up in the later count.

Turkey's three largest cities — Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir — all voted "no" although "yes" prevailed in the country's Anatolian heartland.

The parliament faction chief of the ruling Justice Development Party (AKP), Mustafa Elitas said Erdogan would get an offer after April 27-28 to rejoin that party he founded but had to leave when he became president.

Opposition steps up its objections to the conduct of the referendum

The deputy leader of country's largest opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), on Monday called for the results of the referendum to be annulled.

"There is only one decision to ease the situation in the context of the law — the Supreme Election Board (YSK) should annul the election," Bulent Tezcan said at the CHP headquarters in Ankara.

Both the CHP and the HDP has vowed to contest substantial chunks of the vote with the YSK. They can do this within the period until the final official results are published by the YSK in the next 10 days.

The referendum has no "democratic legitimacy", HDP spokesman and MP Osman Baydemir told reporters in Ankara.

Turkey's High Electoral Board made a last-minute decision on Sunday to count ballots that had not been stamped by officials.

"Ballots and envelopes given to citizens are valid and produced by the High Electoral Board," the President of Turkish High Electoral Board said.

"Polling clerks should have stamped the ballots before the voting but if some forgot to do this, this cannot deprive citizens of voting, which is a constitutional right. And this is not the first time that unstamped ballots have been allowed."

International observes comment on referendum

Meanwhile international observers said on Monday that the referendum campaign was conducted on an "unlevel playing field" and the vote count itself was marred by late procedural changes.

Cezar Florin Preda, head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that monitored the vote, made the comments at news conference in Ankara. Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe.

"The referendum took place on an unlevel playing field and the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities," said Preda of the joint mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

"Late changes in counting procedures removed an important safeguard," Preda added, referring to a move by the election authorities to allow voting documents without an official stamp.

Preda was joined by Tana de Zulueta, head of another team of international observers, who said the referendum fell short of international standards.

TRT World's Managing Editor Resul Serdar Atas says he hasn't seen any substantial reports of electoral fraud in Turkey.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies