Egypt votes 'Yes' on Morsi's constitution
Polls suggest over 60% of Egyptians back president's controversial laws amid fears of new riots; rights groups report irregularities
Roi Kais, Reuters
A constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly was approved by a majority of Egyptians in a referendum, rival camps said on Sunday, after a vote the opposition said drove a wedge through the Arab world's most populous nation.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled President Mohamed Morsi Mursi to power in a June election, said 64% of voters backed the charter after two rounds of voting that ended with a final ballot on Saturday. It cited an unofficial tally.
An opposition official said their unofficial count showed the result was a "yes" vote.
The referendum committee may not declare official results for the two rounds until Monday, after hearing appeals. If the outcome is confirmed, a parliamentary election will follow in about two months.
Morsi's Islamist backers say the constitution is vital for the transition to democracy, nearly two years after the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in an uprising. It will provide stability needed to help a fragile economy, they say.
Egyptian ballot (Photo: Reuters)
But the opposition accuses Morsi of pushing through a text that favors Islamists and ignores the rights of Christians, who make up about 10% of the population, as well as women. They say it is a recipe for further unrest.
"According to our calculations, the final result of the second round is 71% voting 'yes' and the overall result (of the two rounds) is 63.8%," a Brotherhood official, who was in an operations room monitoring the vote, told Reuters.
His figures were confirmed by a statement issued shortly afterwards by the group and broadcast on its television channel.
The Brotherhood and its party, as well as members of the opposition, had representatives monitoring polling stations and the vote count across the country.
The opposition said voting in both rounds was marred by abuses and had called for a re-run after the first stage. However, an official said the overall vote favored the charter.
"They (Islamists) are ruling the country, running the vote and influencing the people, so what else could we expect," the senior official from the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, said.
The build-up to the vote witnessed deadly protests, sparked by Mursi's decision to award himself extra powers in a decree on November 22 and then to fast-track the constitution to a vote.