Middle East Erdogan commends 'Kurdish support' in Turkey referendum

Erdogan commends 'Kurdish support' in Turkey referendum
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a victory speech at the Ottoman-era Huber Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, April 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday praised the Kurdish support he got during the weekend referendum on a package of constitutional changes that transferred majority parliamentary powers to his office, according to a disputed outcome.

Addressing his supporters at the Esenboga airport in the capital Ankara, an empowered Erdogan said he was particularly watching the results coming from the East and Southeast, two geographic regions where the Kurds call homeland.

"I kept watching the whole night. The times have changed. There is now a steady progress. I believe things will get better," said Erdogan in remarks barely giving away a hint of hope for the region battered by an ongoing conflict between a militarily superior Turkish army and the guerrilla Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Erdogan's 'yes' campaign backed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) which he founded and its far-right ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) managed to garner an unexpected amount of support from voters in provinces where pro-Kurdish parties traditionally hold sway.

In the de facto capital of Turkey's Kurdistan Diyarbakir, although only 32 percent of voters approved extending Erdogan's powers, the number demonstrated a ten percent rise compared to the amount of support the AKP got in the November 2015 parliamentary elections.

In at least 11 Kurdish provinces where the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) got most seats in the 2015 elections, the 'no' campaign came victorious, but votes for Erdogan rose between seven to 20 percent compared to those the AKP received.

In ten other Kurdish-majority or ethnically mixed provinces where the 'yes' campaign won, Erdogan got support ranging from ranging from 59 to 74 percentages.

Earlier on Sunday, during his victory speech, Erdogan pointed at the significant rise which came at a time when the HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, Figen Yuksekdag as well as 11 other lawmakers remained in prisons without being able to campaign against him.

The HDP questioned the legitimacy of the outcome in Turkey which stood at 51.4 percent of 'yes' votes, alleging wide-ranging electoral violations, including the counting by the Supreme Electoral Council of millions of unstamped ballots.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said in a Monday report that special military zones in parts of six Kurdish provinces affected some 670,000 voters.

The report also slammed the authorities for the continued imprisonment of HDP officials, a situation the OSCE said diminished confidence in the constitutional reform process.

Some of the 355 thousand to half a million displaced people were not able to cast their votes, according to the observers.

 

Editing by Ava Homa