European rights body urges Turkey to respect voters' choice

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, is flanked by his party's mayoral candidate for Istanbul, Binali Yildiri, waves after Friday prayers, in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, April 12, 2019. Erdogan's ruling party still appealing the results of the local elections in Istanbul, where the opposition has a razor-thin lead and Erdogan said Wednesday election results in Istanbul should be canceled over irregularities.(Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rear center, chairs the executive committee of his ruling Justice and Development Party, in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, April 12, 2019. Erdogan's ruling party still appealing the results of the local elections in Istanbul, where the opposition has a razor-thin lead and Erdogan said Wednesday election results in Istanbul should be canceled over irregularities.(Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey — Europe's human rights watchdog is urging Turkey to respect voters' decisions after electoral authorities blocked some newly elected district mayors from taking office despite winning local elections on March 31.

The Council of Europe on Friday also urged Turkey to confirm the final results of the vote in Istanbul, where the opposition candidate apparently has won a tight race after a recount. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party has refused to concede defeat and is preparing to appeal for a rerun of that vote, citing irregularities.

Anders Knape, a senior official at the Council of Europe, says "the implementation of the will of the voters has absolute priority in democratic systems."

In a controversial decision, Turkey's electoral board has refused to reappoint mayors fired from government positions after a failed coup in 2016.

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