‘90% Egypt voters back constitution’

Gen Fattah al-Sisi closer to bid for presidency, 9 killed, 444 arrested during 2-day vote.

Cairo | Published: January 17, 2014 12:40:09 am
Seen as public confidence in General Sisi. Seen as public confidence in General Sisi.

Egypt’s new constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, state media reported on Thursday, an expected victory that nudges army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ever closer to a bid for the presidency.

The vote advances a transition plan the army unveiled after deposing Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last July. The next step is expected to be a presidential election for which Sisi, 59, appears the only serious candidate.

Some 90 percent of the people who voted approved the constitution, state-run media reported. Al-Ahram, the state’s flagship newspaper, said the constitution was approved by an “unprecedented majority”, citing early results.

The constitution won wide support among the many Egyptians who backed the army’s removal of Morsi. There was little trace of a “no” campaign as the state pressed a crackdown on dissent. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood had called for a boycott, seeing the vote as part of a coup.

An Interior Ministry official said turnout appeared to be more than 55 percent. It was the first vote held since Morsi was overthrown following the June 30 mass protests against his rule.

A decree is expected within days setting the date for presidential and parliamentary elections, Al-Ahram reported. The official result is expected to be announced on Saturday.

Nine people were killed on the first day of voting in clashes between Brotherhood supporters and security forces. The Interior Ministry said 444 people were arrested during the two-day vote.

The authorities, who have billed the transition plan as a path to democracy, have also jailed moderate Islamists and secular-minded activists in recent weeks, including prominent figures in the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.

The referendum has been seen as a public vote of confidence in Sisi, widely viewed as the most powerful figure in Egypt and the man needed to restore stability.

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