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OSCE Called Unsealed Ballots ILLEGAL

International referendum observers in Turkey announced preliminary report with a press conference. OSCE named Turkey’s Supreme Election Board, or YSK decision about questionable ballots with no official seal were to be considered valid, against the law.

According to OSCE’s assessment, the referendum held in Turkey on 16 April is way below the international standards.

“”The referendum took place in a political environment in which fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed under the state of emergency, and the two sides did not have equal opportunities to make their case to the voters,” Tana de Zulueta, head of the ODIHR limited election observation mission said.

The legal framework was not adequate for a genuinely democratic process

Acc. to the press briefing, head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Cezar Florin Preda stated that “On referendum day, there were not big incidents except some specific regions however it was unsettling that NGO’s members could not do observation duties by the ballot boxes. The referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards. The legal framework was inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic process.”

Preda also warned: “ The state of emergency shouldn’t be used to reduce the power of laws.”

“Press Blackouts, Arrests of journalists “

Tana de Zulueta , head of limited election observation, mentioned that various restrictions brought by the state of emergency conditions did limit fundamental freedoms. Media coverage was dominated by the “yes” campaign, de Zulueta said, a factor which, along with the arrests of journalists and the closure of media outlets, “reduced voters’ access to a plurality of views.”

Moreover, it was also noted that as YSK did not let NGO’s to campaign and gave limited access to the NGO members at the ballot boxes. A much more comfortable atmosphere created for YES campaign, and with the help of government sources.

“Late changes in counting procedures removed an important safeguard.”

Zuleta said with the last minute change in vote counting procedures, a critical safeguard was removed, and that the referendum fell short of international standards. Zuleta also told that the YSK’s operation was not transparent, there were very few observers, and representation of the political parties was not sufficient.

“In general, the referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards. The legal framework was inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic process,” Council of Europe (PACE) Cezar Florin Preda said about the last minute change.

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