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Erdogan’s narrow victory lays bare Turkey’s divisions

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Supporters of Tayyip Erdogan waved flags in the streets while opponents banged pots and pans in protest in their homes, after a narrow referendum victory gave the Turkish president sweeping powers and laid the nation’s divisions bare.

The referendum will bring the biggest overhaul in Turkish politics since the founding of the modern republic, abolishing the post of prime minister and concentrating power in the hands of the president. Unofficial results, which the opposition said it would challenge, showed a narrow victory with 51.4 percent of votes cast in favor.

Erdogan, a populist with a background in once-banned Islamist parties, has ruled since 2003 with no real rival, while his country emerged as one of the fastest-growing industrial powers in both Europe and the Middle East.

He has also been at the center of global affairs, commanding NATO’s second biggest military on the border of Middle East war zones, taking in millions of Syrian refugees and controlling their further flow into Europe.

Erdogan survived a coup attempt last year and responded with a crackdown, jailing 47,000 people and sacking or suspending more than 120,000 from government jobs such as schoolteachers, soldiers, police, judges or other professionals.

The changes could keep him in power until 2029 or beyond, making him easily the most important figure in Turkish history since state founder Kemal Ataturk built a modern nation from the ashes of the Ottoman empire after World War One.

In a signal of the direction he now plans for his nation, Erdogan said he would call a referendum to restore the death penalty, ending once and for all Turkey’s decades-long bid to join the European Union, the impetus for years of reforms.

CHRONIC INSTABILITY

Erdogan has long said the changes to the constitution were needed to end the chronic instability that plagued the country over decades when the military repeatedly tried to seize power from weak civilian governments.

“For the first time in the history of the Republic, we are changing our ruling system through civil politics,” he said in a victory speech.

But the narrow referendum result could itself be a sign of more instability to come. The changes won strong backing in conservative rural areas, but were strongly opposed in Istanbul and other cities, as well as in the restive Kurdish southeast.

Thousands of supporters waved flags and blasted horns into the early hours on Monday in celebration of a man who they say has transformed the quality of life for millions of pious Turks marginalized for decades by the secular elite.

There were scattered protests against the result, but these were more sporadic. In some affluent, secular neighborhoods, opponents stayed indoors, banging pots and pans, a sign of dissent that became widespread during anti-Erdogan protests in 2013, when the police crushed demonstrations against him.

The main opposition said the vote was marred by irregularities and it would challenge the result.

“The referendum is won but it is no victory. The results did not yield a meaningful ‘Yes’,” Abdulkadir Selvi, a pro-government columnist wrote in the Hurriyet newspaper.

The High Electoral Board (YSK) confirmed late on Sunday the results had shown the “Yes” campaign with 1.25 million more votes than the “No” camp. The official results are expected within 12 days.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) demanded a recount of up to 60 percent of the votes. It cited a last minute decision by the electoral board to count ballots that had not been stamped by officials as a potential irregularity.

Erdogan said 25 million people had supported the proposal, which will replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with an all-powerful presidency. That was a smaller margin of victory than the decisive result for which he and his ruling AK Party had aggressively campaigned.

Nevertheless, by ending uncertainty the result triggered a two percent rally in the Turkish lira from its close last week. It traded at 3.6380 against the U.S. dollar early on Monday, firming from 3.7220 on Friday.

‘NO EARLY ELECTIONS’

Under the changes, most of which will only come into effect after the next elections due in 2019, the president will appoint the cabinet and an undefined number of vice-presidents, and be able to select and remove senior civil servants without parliamentary approval.

There has been some speculation that Erdogan could call new elections so that his new powers could take effect right away. However, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek told Reuters there was no such plan, and the elections would still be held in 2019.

“Yesterday the president made it very clear that elections will be held in November 2019,” he said. “It is very clear. We have work to do.”

Erdogan served as prime minister from 2003 until 2014, when rules were changed to hold direct elections for the office of president, previously a ceremonial role elected by parliament. Since becoming the first directly elected president, he has set about making the post more important, like the executive presidencies of France, Russia or the United States.

In a sign of his authority, he was set to chair a cabinet meeting later on Monday, a role traditionally carried out by the prime minister although he has chaired such meetings before.

Pro-government media painted the result as a victory for the Turkish people, transforming a constitution left over from a 1980 military coup. The Sabah daily hailed “The People’s Revolution”. The Star’s headline was “The People’s Victory”.

However, the opposition daily Cumhuriyet’s headline said “The ballot box is overshadowed”, reporting opposition objections to what they said were irregularities in the voting.

European politicians who have had increasingly strained relations with Turkey, expressed concern about the divisions revealed by the narrow victory margin.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of Germany, where an estimated 4 million Turks form one of the largest minorities from a single country in Europe, said in a statement that Berlin respected the right of Turks to change their country’s constitution.

But they added: “The tight referendum result shows how deeply divided Turkish society is, and that means a big responsibility for the Turkish leadership and for President Erdogan personally.”

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said the close result meant that Ankara should seek “the broadest national consensus” in implementing the vote.

Relations came under strain during the referendum campaign when EU countries including Germany and the Netherlands barred Turkish ministers from holding rallies to support the changes. Erdogan provoked a stern German response by comparing those limits on campaigning to the actions of the Nazis.

Source: Reuters

© 2017, . All rights reserved.

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Hurricane Ophelia kills 3 and leaves 360,000 without power in Ireland

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On Monday, Ireland was hit by Hurricane Orphelia in what officials called an “unprecedented storm” that left three people dead, more than 300,000 customers without power and shut down schools as well as government offices.

 

A police spokesman said one woman in her 50s was killed outside the village of Aglish, near the south coast, when a tree fell on her car. A female passenger in her 70s suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

 

Another man died in an accident while he was clearing a fallen tree with a chainsaw near the town of Cahir, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) further inland.

 

And the third victim was a man killed on the roads by a falling tree north of Dundalk in the northeast, close to the border with Northern Ireland, police said in a statement.

Ophelia, the largest hurricane ever recorded so far east in the Atlantic Ocean and the furthest north since 1939, was downgraded to a storm before it hit the Irish coast but nonetheless wrought havoc.

Met Eireann, the Irish National Meteorological Service said, “It will still however bring violent and destructive winds for a time,” Flooding was also expected “due to either heavy thundery downpours or storm surges in coastal areas,” the service said after issuing a red alert for the whole country.

Winds reached 191 kilometres (119 miles) per hour at Fastnet Rock, Ireland’s southernmost point, while the strongest winds recorded onshore were 156 kph (97 mph) at the entrance to Cork Harbour in the southwest.

The Electricity Supply Board said 330,000 customers were without power, due to more than 3,200 individual faults on the network.

Ophelia is the 15th named storm of the 2017 Atlantic season, which is expected to last until the end of November. Three major hurricanes; Harvey, Irma and Maria caused catastrophic damage in the Caribbean and the US Gulf Coast.

© 2017, Ikrueyen Vickky. All rights reserved.

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photos and video from the scene of the car bomb attack that killed female blogger in Malta.

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photos and video from the scene of the car bomb attack that killed female journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, in Malta on Monday have been released.

Yesterday, we reported that the prominent journalist and blogger who made repeated and detailed corruption allegations against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s inner circle, was killed by a car bomb, while she was driving near the village of Bidnija in northern Malta. (Read the previous post here).

 More photos and video from the scene of the car bomb attack that killed female blogger in Malta.

The assassination was just a week after Servers hosting Galizia’s website suffered ‘unprecedented’ DDoS attack. Malta Television also reported that Caruana Galizia had filed a complaint to the police two weeks ago to say she had received threats before she was killed in the car bomb attack.

Watch video from the scene and see more photos below…

 More photos and video from the scene of the car bomb attack that killed female blogger in Malta.

 More photos and video from the scene of the car bomb attack that killed female blogger in Malta.

 More photos and video from the scene of the car bomb attack that killed female blogger in Malta.

© 2017, Ikrueyen Vickky. All rights reserved.

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..Death toll rises to 276 in Somalia’s worst bomb attack with about 300 injured in the capital

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The most powerful bomb blast ever witnessed in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital killed 276 people with around 300 others injured, the country’s information minister,  Information Minister Abdirahman O. Osman said early Monday morning, making it the deadliest single attack in this Horn of Africa nation. The toll was expected to rise.

The attack occurred when a truck carrying explosives detonated Saturday in a crowded street packed with cars and pedestrians, near government ministries and hotels.

Death toll rises to 276 in Somalia

In a tweet, Abdirahman Osman called the attack “barbaric” and said countries including Turkey and Kenya had already offered to send medical aid. Hospitals were overwhelmed a day after a truck bomb targeted a crowded street near key government ministries, including foreign affairs.

Death toll rises to 276 in Somalia

As angry protesters gathered near the scene of the attack, Somalia’s government blamed the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group for what it called a “national disaster.” However, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital, had yet to comment.

Al-Shabab earlier this year vowed to step up attacks after both the Trump administration and Somalia’s recently elected president announced new military efforts against the group.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo said the attack showed Somalia’s enemies cared nothing for human lives.

Death toll rises to 276 in Somalia

“Today’s horrific attack proves our enemy would stop at nothing to cause our people pain and suffering. Let’s unite against terror,” he tweeted. The president declared three days of mourning and called on citizens to donate blood as hospitals struggled to save critically injured civilians.

After the president visited Medina Hospital on Sunday morning to give blood and comfort victims, hundreds more Somalis flocked to hospitals to donate blood.

Relatives of missing people arrived at hospitals Sunday desperate for news of loved ones. Others wandered around the ruins of buildings hit by the blast.

Death toll rises to 276 in Somalia

Many of the dead had not been identified, with dozens burned beyond recognition.

The Mogadishu bombing is one of the deadliest attacks in sub-Saharan Africa, larger than the Garissa University attack in Kenya in 2015 and the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

© 2017, Ikrueyen Vickky. All rights reserved.

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