Report: Egypt Voters Overwhelmingly Back Constitution

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Egyptians who voted in a referendum overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, official sources said, citing early results of a ballot.

Report: Egypt Voters Overwhelmingly Back Constitution

About 90 percent of voters approved the constitution, the state news agency and a government official said.

It comes as no surprise: the constitution won wide support among Egyptians who backed the army overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi in July, and there was little or no trace of a no campaign as the state presses a campaign on dissent, Reuters reported.

Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, which is sure to dispute the official numbers, had called for a boycott of the two-day vote, seeing it as part of a coup against a leader freely elected 18 months ago. It had called for anti-government protests.

After nine people were killed in clashes between police and Mursi supporters on Tuesday, the protests stretched into Wednesday. Protesters skirmished with the police near the presidential palace. There were no reports of deaths.

The Interior Ministry said 444 people were arrested during the two days of voting.

State news agency MENA, citing early indications, said the approval rate exceeded 90 percent in many of the polling stations that had reported results.

An Interior Ministry official said turnout so far may have exceeded 55 percent, though MENA did not give a figure.

"The approval of the constitution is perhaps more than 95 percent," Major General Abdel Fattah Othman, director of public relations for the Interior Ministry, told private satellite channel Al-Hayat.

The referendum is a key step in the political transition plan the interim government has billed as a path to democracy, even as it presses a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood, Egypt's best organized party until last year.

In a widening crackdown on dissent, the authorities have also arrested secular-minded activists in recent months, including prominent figures in the historic 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.

One moderately Islamist party said its supporters had been arrested while campaigning for a no-vote in the referendum.

The referendum has been seen as a public vote of confidence in  Army Chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the 59-year-old widely seen as the most powerful figure in Egypt since he removed Mursi and won massive popularity among the Egyptians who staged mass protests against his rule in June.

Sisi's supporters see him as the kind of strong man needed to restore stability to a country in political and economic crisis for nearly three years. The stock market has rallied to three-year highs this week.

High turnout would be seen as a strong stamp of approval for the new, the army-backed order. A Sisi presidency would turn back the clock to the days when the post was controlled by military men - a pattern broken by Mursi's one year in office.

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