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Early results suggest Egyptian constitution approved in referendum

Published time: December 22, 2012 11:32
Edited time: December 23, 2012 07:05

Egyptian men cast their ballots during the second round of a referendum on a new draft constitution in Giza, south of Cairo, on December 22, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)

Preliminary results show a majority of the thirty per cent of Egyptians who voted did so in favor of the country's Islamist-authored constitution. Meanwhile Vice President Mahmoud Mekki has resigned, as the new constitution does away with his post.

­Officials are still counting the ballots cast during the referendum's final round. Preliminary results released by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood show that the disputed constitution has received a "yes" majority of more than 70 per cent, with a turnout of only about 30 per cent of eligible voters.

The Islamist-drafted constitution is widely expected to pass and with the margin of victory believed to be the only variable. The new constitution would come into effect once the official results are announced, which is expected in several days.

The vote on the draft charter comes amid four weeks of clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi. 

Egyptian vice-president Mahmoud Mekki said he intended to quit once the charter is adopted as the new constitution eliminates the role of vice president.  

However, statement by Mekki read on state TV, suggested that his motive might in-fact be a disagreement with the Islamist policies of President Mohammed Morsi.

Mekki, a career judge, first announced his resignation last month but said that events in the country had forced him to stay on.

‘‘I have realized a while ago that the nature of politics don’t suit my professional genesis as a judge,’’ he wrote.

Egyptian State TV also reports that the country's central bank governor Farouk El-Okadah has resigned from the post.

One person has died as violence erupted in Qena, a province in southern Egypt, according to reports in the local media.

Saturday's vote is taking place in 17 of Egypt's 27 provinces, in a country with about 25 million eligible voters.

The first round of voting took place last Saturday, during which half of country went to the polls. The results of the initial voting saw the constitution passed with a narrow majority of 56.5 percent.

Shortly after the polls closed, opposition group the National Salvation Front issued a statement accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of rigging the vote.

Egypt has been being engulfed in violent unrest for the past four weeks after President Morsi issued a decree on November 22 granting his office vastly expanded powers. The decree was cemented by the subsequent approval of a draft constitution by Egypt's Islamist-led parliament.

Egyptians queue to vote in the second round of a referendum on a new draft constitution in Giza, south of Cairo, on December 22, 2012  (AFP Photo / Gianlugi Guercia)
Egyptians queue to vote in the second round of a referendum on a new draft constitution in Giza, south of Cairo, on December 22, 2012 (AFP Photo / Gianlugi Guercia)

­ In an effort to quell the violent protests, the president recently annulled the decree. The move did little to defuse tensions – the new constitution continues to divide public opinion in Egypt.

The opposition slammed the ruling Muslim Brotherhood party for using Islamist doctrine as the basic principal of the constitution, arguing it was not representative of Egypt’s minority populations. President Mohamed Morsi claimed that the document is necessary to usher in a period of transition in Egyptian politics.

However, independent political analyst Dan Glazebrook told RT that the vote on the constitution has been deliberately rushed, and that the opposition hasn’t had the chance to organize itself effectively.

“It’s been rushed through deliberately before people have had chance to take stock and before the opposition have had chance to organize themselves. The Muslim Brotherhood on the other hand are organized and have been allowed to organize in certain spheres of Egyptian life for several decades under Mubarak and under his predecessors,” he said.

Morsi has already damaged the Egyptian economy by signing a free trade agreement with Europe that will “sacrifice the sovereignty of Egypt in terms of its ability to tax foreign imports, regulate foreign capital and subsidize its own interests,” Glazebrook explained.

Alexandria, Egypt's second-largest city, witnessed an outbreak of street violence on Friday ahead of the second vote. Egyptian police fired teargas to disperse clashes as thousands of Islamists supporting Egypt’s new constitution were met with furious opposition.

Police intervened after the two groups began hurling rocks at each other, with officers trying to form cordons to separate the parties.

The first round voting last week on the national referendum also prompted mass protests in Alexandria.

A niqab-clad Egyptian woman casts her ballot at a polling station during the second round of a referendum on a new draft constitution in Giza, south of Cairo, on December 22, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A niqab-clad Egyptian woman casts her ballot at a polling station during the second round of a referendum on a new draft constitution in Giza, south of Cairo, on December 22, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
Egyptians register as they proceed to vote during the second round of a referendum on a new draft constitution in Giza, south of Cairo, on December 22, 2012 (AFP Photo / Gianlugi Guercia)
Egyptians register as they proceed to vote during the second round of a referendum on a new draft constitution in Giza, south of Cairo, on December 22, 2012 (AFP Photo / Gianlugi Guercia)

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