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CHP blasts election board after referendum result

Turkey's main opposition party to call for a partial recount, citing irregularities as 'unsealed' ballots are counted.

Turkey's main opposition party says it will demand a partial recount in Sunday's constitutional referendum, citing irregularities in the voting process.

Unofficial results showed that 51.4 percent of Turks voted "Yes" to approve changes to their constitution and grant the country's presidential office extensive executive powers. Voter turnout was about 85 percent.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) which campaigned for "No", said he respects the electorate's will, but criticised a decision by Turkey's High Electoral Board (YSK) taken on the day of the day to count "unsealed" paper ballots - ballots not given an official stamp - which he said overshadowed the referendum's results.

"The rule of the match cannot be changed while the match is being played, which is an universal rule," Kilicdaroglu said late on Sunday, claiming that the electoral board illegitimately changed the rules after the end of voting.

"I sadly want to state that [the YSK] made this referendum questionable," he added.

"In order to support our democracy, we did everything that we could in unfair conditions. When I say that we did everything we could, I mean everything within the law. Those who campaigned for a 'Yes' vote breached the law."

After Kilicdaroglu's comments, electoral board head Said Guven responded by saying that unsealed paper ballots were valid.

Guven on Sunday told media at the board's headquarters in Ankara that the position on the paper ballots was a "unanimous decision made before voting results transferred to the system", according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

"Before counting, ballots, envelopes and number of voters are crosschecked," Guven said.

He added that the final results will be released within 11-12 days.

Under the changes, most of which will only come into effect after the next elections due in 2019, Turkey's governance will be transformed from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the changes are necessary to bring stability to Turkish politics and prevent a return to fragile coalitions.

Before the vote, critics had said creating a powerful presidency was an attempt by Erdogan to establish a "one-man rule".

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the outcome of the referendum confirmed Erdogan's dominance in the country's politics but also exposed divisions within Turkish society.

"What is disconcerting for him [Erdogan] is not just the opposition, which is crying foul, but the fact that almost 50 percent of the people voted against this massive change and may not be willing to accept the result easily," Aliriza said.


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