Large Majority of Egyptian Voters Approve New Constitution

By:  Warren Mass
01/16/2014
       
Large Majority of Egyptian Voters Approve New Constitution

Preliminary results indicate that more than 97 percent of Egyptian voters have voted “yes” to approve the nation’s new constitution, national officials and the media announced on January 16.

The Egyptian daily Al Ahram reported that of 19,311,010 voters casting ballots, 18,631,844 (97.7 percent) voted “yes, with 366,410 (2.3 percent) voting “no.”

Al Ahram reported that the newly amended constitution “improves upon the one drafted in 2012 under an Islamist government headed by then-president Mohamed Morsi. That charter was suspended after his 3 July ouster.” The influential Egyptian newspaper also noted that the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a prominent member, announced a boycott of the referendum and held protests during the voting to denounce what they called an illegitimate political process.

Al Ahram further reported that the Strong Egypt Party, founded by former Brotherhood member and prominent Islamist Mohamed Abul-Fotouh, initially campaigned for a “no” vote, but after some of its members were arrested for passing out fliers against approving the new constitution, it called for an outright boycott of the referendum. 

Fox News reported that the amended constitution just voted on not only provides a blueprint for new presidential elections, but was also a test of public opinion about the coup that removed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. The new constitution is a heavily amended version of the document written by Morsi’s Islamist allies and ratified in December 2012 with about 64 percent of the vote.

The overwhelming “yes” vote is also seen as a mandate for General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi — commander-in-chief of Egypt’s armed forces, Minister of Defense, and First Deputy Prime Minister — to run for president later this year. 

As commander of the armed forces, el-Sisi played the leading role in ousting Morsi. El-Sisi is a Sunni Muslim with ties to the West, having attended the Joint Command and Staff College in the U.K. and the U.S. Army War College.

Reuters reported that el-Sisi is very popular and is seen as the only serious candidate for the presidency. Mohamed Qadri Said, a retired army general who works at the state’s Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies, told the news service, “I believe this is the most convenient time for Sisi to make an announcement if he has the intention to run. I do not see anyone else running against him. He has done great things to the country and the people like him.”

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Photo of election workers in Cairo counting ballots in the referendum for Egypt's new constitution: AP Images

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