Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan claims victory in presidential election

 

ANKARA, June 24 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in Sunday's presidential election and said his ruling AK Party and its alliance partner had won a parliamentary majority.

However, the main opposition party said it was too early to concede defeat and said it believed Erdogan could still fall short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff on July 8.

"Our people have given us the job of carrying out the presidential and executive posts," he said in a short speech from Istanbul.

"I hope nobody will try to cast a shadow on the results and harm democracy in order to hide their own failure."

Sunday's vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump as they make statements to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S President Donald Trump (L) talks with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he arrives at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S President Donald Trump watches as Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan departs at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and U.S President Donald Trump deliver statements to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S President Donald Trump watches as Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan departs at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
HAMBURG, GERMANY - JULY 07: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - ' TURKISH PRESIDENCY / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with US President Donald Trump (R) during the G20 Leaders' Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 07, 2017. Germany is hosting leaders from the worlds 20 largest economies at the Hamburg summit on July 7-8, set to focus on the global economy, trade, climate change, and the fight against international terrorism. (Photo by Turkish Presidency / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - MAY 16: U.S President Donald Trump (R) and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) hold a joint press conference after their meeting at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, United States on May 16, 2017. (Photo by Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - MAY 16: President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) is welcomed by U.S. President Donald Trump (L) ahead of their meeting at the White House in Washington, United States on May 16, 2017. (Photo by Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) leave after speaking to the press following meetings in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, May 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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An unexpectedly strong showing by the AK Party's alliance partner, the nationalist MHP, could translate into a stable parliamentary majority Erdogan seeks to govern freely.

In early trading in Asia the lira currency firmed modestly against the dollar on the prospect of increased political stability.

Erdogan's main presidential rival, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) urged election monitors to remain at polling stations to help ensure against possible election fraud, as final results came in from large cities where his party typically performs strongly.

With 96 percent of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 53 percent, comfortably ahead of Ince on 31 percent, broadcasters said.

In the parliamentary contest, the Islamist-rooted AK Party had 43 percent and its MHP ally 11 percent, based on 98 percent of votes counted, broadcasters said.

In the opposition camp, the CHP had 23 percent and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) 11 percent - above the threshold it needs to reach to enter parliament.

The HDP's presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, has waged his election campaign from a prison near the Greek border as he awaits trial on terrorism-related charges, which he denies. He had 7 percent, based on 90 percent of votes cast.

The opposition raised doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the figures released by state-run Anadolu news agency, the sole distributor of the official vote tally.

(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Gulsen Solaker, Ali Kucukgocmen, Ezgi Erkoyun, Can Sezer, David Dolan, Daren Butler, Ece Toksabay, Tuvan Gumrukcu and Dominic Evans; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing By Jon Boyle)

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