Donald Trump calls Turkey's president to congratulate him on winning referendum

Hundreds of 'No' supporters gather in Istanbul's streets, chanting 'thief' and 'murderer'

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Donald Trump has called Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on his victory in a referendum granting him extended new powers, sources in Mr Erdogan's palace have said.

Turkey voted on Sunday to introduce a raft of constitutional changes that mean Turkey's parliamentary democracy can be replaced with an executive presidency, greatly increasing Mr Erdogan's powers. Unofficial results, which the opposition said it would challenge, showed a narrow victory for him with 51.4 per cent of votes cast in favour.

The vote allows Mr Erdogan the ability to stay in power until at least 2029 — since he will have the chance to run for re-election in 2019 and potentially serve two five-year terms.

Turkey's president Recep Erdogan wins referendum to greatly expand powers

Shortly after the results were announced, Mr Erdogan renewed suggestions the country could hold a referendum on reinstating the death penalty. 

In Istanbul, hundreds of “No” supporters demonstrated in the streets on Monday, chanting “thief, murderer, Erdogan” and banging pots and pans. 

“We are protesting today because the results announced by the government are not the real ones. Because actually the 'no' we voted won. But the government is announcing it as 'yes' has won,” Damla Atalay, a 35-year-old lawyer, said of the voting irregularities. 

Mr Erdogan was unfazed by the criticism as he spoke to flag-waving supporters in the Turkish capital, Ankara. 

“We have put up a fight against the powerful nations of the world,” he said as he arrived at the airport from Istanbul. “The crusader mentality attacked us abroad. We did not succumb. As a nation, we stood strong.” 

In a speech before a large crowd at his sprawling presidential palace complex, Mr Erdogan insisted Turkey's referendum was “the most democratic election... ever seen in any Western country” and admonished the OSCE monitors to “know your place.” 

The increasing polarisation of Turkish society has long worried Turkey observers, who note the dangers of deepening societal divisions in a country with a history of political instability. 

The referendum was held with a state of emergency still in place, imposed after an attempted coup in July. About 100,000 people have been fired from their jobs in the crackdown that followed on supporters of a US-based Islamic cleric and former ally Mr Erdogan who the president blamed for the attempted putsch. Tens of thousands have been arrested or imprisoned, including lawmakers, judges, journalists and businessmen. 

On Monday, the country's Council of Ministers decided to extend the state of emergency, which grants greater powers of detention and arrest to security forces, for a further three months. It had been due to expire April 19. The decision was to be sent to parliament for approval. 

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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