Trump congratulates Turkey’s Erdogan on gaining more power in narrow referendum win

President Trump congratulated Turkey on the nation's contentious referendum victory, a vote that will grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power under a transformed constitution.

A White House spokesman said the President called his Turkish counterpart on Monday after the nation's state-run media announced a preliminary 51% win that will convert the government from a parliament to a presidency.

Divisive votes were cast over the weekend amid a state of emergency, claims of intimidation and voting irregularities. The electoral board accepted a stunning number of ballots that lacked an official stamp.

The referendum was proposed after last year's failed coup attempt.

Most of the changes, including 18 constitutional amendments, will take effect after the next presidential election in November 2019, but as soon as the final election results are published, Erdogan can rejoin the right-wing Justice and Development Party he founded.

Opponents to the referendum fear the constitution changes will allow Erdogan more sway in an already troubled country. He will be allowed to make judicial and government appointments, issue decrees and declare state of emergencies.

The phone call comes as the Trump administration overhauls the government with sweeping conservative appointments and proposed cuts to federal agencies.

Trump, whose presidency and election bid was marked by suspiciously cozy relations with Russia — and Turkey, expressed gratitude toward Erdogan's support of the U.S.'s retaliatory Tomahawk strike following a deadly chemical attack in Syria, according to the White House readout of the phone call.

The translated readout issued through the Turkish government is nearly identical to the White House's recollection of the phone call.

With News Wire Services

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