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Trump Congratulates Erdogan as Monitors Slam Handling of Referendum

HeadlineApr 18, 2017
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International monitors have issued a scathing critique of Turkey’s referendum Sunday over whether to grant sweeping new powers to the president that critics warn could turn Turkey into a dictatorship. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in the narrow vote, although the opposition says they’ve received thousands of complaints about voter fraud and other irregularities. On Monday, international monitors slammed the referendum, saying the playing field was unlevel and that the opposition faced repression. This is the head of one of the international monitoring teams.

Tana de Zulueta: "Our team observed the misuse of administrative resources and the obstruction of efforts by parties and civil society organizations supporting the 'no' campaign. The campaign rhetoric was tarnished by some senior officials equating 'no' supporters with terrorist sympathizers. In numerous cases, 'no' sympathizers faced police interventions and violent scuffles at their events."

The Turkish government has rejected the criticism, calling it "biased and prejudiced." Meanwhile, the United States is backing the referendum results.

On Monday, President Trump called Erdogan to congratulate him on winning the referendum. Trump has major business interests in Turkey. In 2015, Trump even admitted he had conflicts of interest in dealing with Turkey, while speaking on Steve Bannon’s radio show "Breitbart News Daily."

Donald Trump: "Well, I also have—I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul, and it’s a tremendously successful job. It’s called Trump Towers, two towers instead of one. Not the usual one, it’s two. And I’ve gotten to know Turkey very well, and they’re amazing people. They’re incredible people."

At a press briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to comment on the alleged fraud and irregularities in the referendum.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer: "We would rather not get ahead of that report and start to make decisions without knowing. There were observers there, as there routinely are, and I’d rather wait and see."

Click here to see our full interview on Sunday’s referendum.

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