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Turkish opposition appeals referendum on Erdogan powers

Preliminary referendum results gave a narrow 51.4% approval for the biggest overhaul of Turkey’s political system.

FILE: People wait their turn to vote in the referendum on expanding the powers of the Turkish president on 16 April 2017 in Istanbul. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Turkey's main opposition party has now filed a court appeal against a decision by electoral authorities to accept unstamped ballot papers in the tightly contested referendum granting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wide new powers.

Preliminary referendum results gave a narrow 51.4% approval for the biggest overhaul of Turkey’s political system, since the modern state was established nearly a century ago, but opposition parties insist the poll was deeply flawed.

Erdogan, a populist with a background in once-banned Islamist parties, has ruled since 2003 with no real rival, while his country emerged as one of the fastest-growing industrial powers in both Europe and the Middle East.

He has also been at the centre of global affairs, commanding NATO’s second-biggest military on the border of Middle East war zones, taking in millions of Syrian refugees and controlling their further flow into Europe.

Critics accuse him of steering Turkey towards one-man rule and exacerbating divisions that could increase instability. The two largest opposition parties both challenged Sunday's referendum, saying it was deeply flawed.

(Additional information by Reuters)