World

Erdogan wins Turkey referendum

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won a historic referendum on Sunday that will tighten his grip on power, but the knife-edge result left the country bitterly divided and the opposition crying foul.

The sweeping constitutional changes approved in the vote create a presidential system that will grant Mr Erdogan more power than any leader since modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his successor Ismet Inonu.

The result could also have even wider implications for Turkey, which joined Nato in 1952 and for the last half-century has set its sights on joining the European Union.

The "yes" campaign won 51.4 percent of the vote against 48.6 percent for "no", the election commission said in figures quoted by state news agency Anadolu, in a count based on 99.5 per cent of the ballot boxes. Turnout was a high 85 per cent.

As huge crowds of supporters celebrated on the streets, Mr Erdogan praised Turkey for taking a "historic decision".

"With the people, we have realised the most important reform in our history," he added.

But opposition supporters in anti-Erdogan districts of Istanbul showed their dissatisfaction by bashing pots and pans with kitchen utensils to create a noisy protest. Hundreds also took to the streets in the areas of Besiktas and Kadikoy. - AFP

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