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Egypt ‘yes’ to statute

Cairo, Dec. 23 (Reuters): A Constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly was approved by a majority of Egyptians in a referendum, rival camps said today, after a vote the opposition said drove a wedge through the Arab world’s most populous nation.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled President Mohamed Mursi to power in a June election, said an unofficial tally showed 64 per cent of voters backed the charter after two rounds of voting that ended with a final ballot on Saturday.

An Opposition official also said the 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.

Mursi’s Islamist backers say the Constitution is vital for the transition to democracy, nearly two years after the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. It will provide the stability needed to help a fragile economy, they say.

The Constitution was “a historic opportunity to unite all national powers on the basis of mutual respect and honest dialogue for the sake of stabilising the nation”, the Brotherhood said in a statement.

But the Opposition accuses Mursi of pushing through a text that favours Islamists and ignores the rights of Christians, who make up about 10 per cent 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 per cent voting ‘yes’ and the overall result (of the two rounds) is 63.8 per cent,” a Brotherhood official said.

His figures were confirmed by a statement issued shortly afterwards by the group and broadcast on its television channel.

The Opposition said voting in both rounds was marred by abuses. However, an official said the overall vote favoured the charter, with nearly 70 per cent in favour in the second round, in line with the Islamists’ estimate.

“They are ruling the country, running the vote and influencing the people, so what else could we expect,” a senior official from the main Opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, said.

The vote was split over two days as many judges had refused to supervise the ballot, making a single day of voting impossible.

“I’m voting ‘no’ because Egypt can’t be ruled by one faction,” said Karim Nahas, 35, a stockbroker, in Giza, greater Cairo.

 
 
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