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Turkey votes in key constitutional referendum

Voting is under way in Turkey in a landmark referendum that will determine whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be granted sweeping new powers.
The constitutional changes proposed in Sunday’s vote seek to transform Turkey’s governance from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency, significantly expanding the powers of the top office.

Supporters say the move would streamline and modernise the country, but opponents fear it could lead to greater authoritarianism.

A “yes” vote could also see Mr Erdogan remain in office until 2029.

People started casting their ballots in eastern Turkey at 7am (04:00 GMT), while voting in the rest of the country started at 8am (05:00 GMT). Polls will close at 4pm (13:00 GMT) in the east and 5pm (14:00 GMT) elsewhere.

Some 55 million people are eligible to vote across 167,000 polling stations, with the results expected to be announced late on Sunday evening.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed supporters in Istanbul for the last time on Saturday, calling on citizens to vote “Yes” to the constitutional changes.

“[The new system] will strengthen the stable and secure environment our country needs to develop,” he said.

The changes are backed by Erdogan, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) founded by him, and the leadership of the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP), whose parliamentary support was vital to take the amendments to a public vote.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) and other critics argue that the amendments will give too much power to one individual, undermining the separation of powers in the government.

“We are going to vote for Turkey’s future.
Would you let your children go on a train without any brakes?” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the CHP, said at a rally in Ankara for the “No” campaign.

Source: Daily Sun, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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