Erdogan urges Turks abroad to vote 'despite obstacles'

'Whatever obstacle they place in front of you, you should go and cast your votes,' Turkish president says in TRT interview

Erdogan urges Turks abroad to vote 'despite obstacles'

World Bulletin / News Desk

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Turkish citizens living abroad to participate in the upcoming referendum despite obstacles being placed on their path.

Addressing the citizens via an interview aired on the state-run TRT network Wednesday, Erdogan said: "Whatever obstacle they place in front of you, you should go and cast your votes on the dates announced for you to participate in the polls."

The president’s remarks came after German local authorities cancelled several events related to Turkey’s April 16 referendum on constitutional change that Turkish government ministers had planned to address.

The cancellation of referendum rallies caused huge resentment in Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comparing the move to Nazi-era practices.

Germany’s opposition parties and several media organizations have been campaigning for a ban on rallies by Turkish politicians, claiming it undermines social harmony in the country.

"Your votes will be the most meaningful response to the countries in the West and the world," Erdogan said.

He said the April 16 referendum would also be the day on which Turkish citizens abroad would feel happy despite obstacles they face. "Nobody has the right to prevent your will," he said.

Erdogan said the new constitutional reforms would save the future of the country.

He added: "This is not just a system for us, but a system for the future of our country."

Constitutional reforms and the change to a presidential system has been on the political agenda since Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former prime minister and Justice and Development (AK) Party leader, was elected president in August 2014.

This marked the first time a Turkish president had been directly chosen by popular vote.

On Jan. 20, Turkish lawmakers from the ruling AK Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted in favor of a new constitutional reform package.

Aside from the change to an executive presidency, other reforms include allowing the president to maintain party political affiliation.

There will be changes to Turkey’s highest judicial body, which would be renamed while retaining its independence and own budget.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Mart 2017, 23:00