Egypt’s draft charter approved in vote


Published — Monday 24 December 2012

Last update 24 December 2012 3:40 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

CAIRO: A constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly was approved by a majority of Egyptians in a referendum, rival camps said yesterday, after a vote the opposition said drove a wedge through the Arab world’s most populous nation.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled President Muhammad Mursi to power in a June election, said an unofficial tally showed 64 percent of voters backed the charter after two rounds of voting that ended with a final ballot on Saturday.
An opposition official also told Reuters their 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 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 favors Islamists and ignores the rights of Christians, who make up about 10 percent 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 percent voting ‘yes’ and the overall result (of the two rounds) is 63.8 percent,” a Brotherhood official, who was in an operations room monitoring the vote, told Reuters.
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 favored the charter, with nearly 70 percent in favor 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, told Reuters. 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.
At another polling station, some voters said they were more interested in ending Egypt’s long period of political instability than in the Islamist aspects of the charter.
“We have to extend our hands to Mursi to help fix the country,” said Hisham Kamal, an accountant.
During the build-up to the vote there were deadly protests, sparked by Mursi’s decision to award himself extra powers in a Nov. 22 decree and then to fast-track the constitutional vote.
Hours before polls closed, Vice President Mahmoud Mekky announced his resignation. He said he wanted to quit last month but stayed on to help Mursi tackle the crisis that blew up when the Islamist leader assumed wide powers.
Mekky, a prominent judge who said he was uncomfortable in politics, disclosed earlier he had not been informed of Mursi’s power grab.

The timing of his resignation appeared linked to the lack of a vice-presidential post under the draft constitution.
The new basic law sets a limit of two four-year presidential terms. It says the principles of sharia, Islamic law, remain the main source of legislation but adds an article to explain this. It also says Islamic authorities will be consulted on sharia — a source of concern to Christians and others.
Rights groups reported what they said were illegalities in voting procedures. They said some polling stations opened late, that Islamists illegally campaigned at some polling places, and complained of irregularities in voter registration.
But the committee overseeing the two-stage vote said its investigations showed no major irregularities in voting on Dec. 15, which covered about half of Egypt’s 51 million voters. About 25 million were eligible to vote in the second round.
The Brotherhood said turnout was about a third of voters.
The opposition says the constitution will stir up more trouble on the streets since it has not received sufficiently broad backing for a document that should be agreed by consensus, and raised questions about the fairness of the vote.
In the first round, the district covering most of Cairo voted “no,” which opponents said showed the depth of division.
“I see more unrest,” said Ahmed Said, head of the liberal Free Egyptians Party and a member of the National Salvation Front, an opposition coalition formed after Mursi expanded his powers on Nov. 22 and then pushed the constitution to a vote.
He cited “serious violations” on the first day of voting, and said anger against Mursi was growing. “People are not going to accept the way they are dealing with the situation.”
At least eight people were killed in protests outside the presidential palace in Cairo this month. Islamists and rivals clashed in Alexandria, the second-biggest city, on the eves of both voting days.
Late on Saturday, Mursi announced the names of 90 new members he had appointed to the upper house of parliament, state media reported, and a presidential official said the list was mainly liberals and other non-Islamists.
But a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, which groups liberals, socialists and other opposition parties and politicians, said the Front’s members had refused to take part in the appointments to the chamber.
Legislative powers, now held by Mursi because the lower house of parliament was dissolved earlier this year, will pass to the upper house under the new constitution.
Two-thirds of the 270-member upper house was elected in a vote this year, with one third appointed by the president. Mursi, elected in June, had not named them until now. Mursi’s Islamist party and its allies dominate the assembly.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The National Center for Assessment (NCA), known here as Qiyas, announced Monday that a foreign academic has won its 2015 award for Excellence in Research and Development.George Engelhard Jr. will receive his award at the Second International...
RIYADH: The Cabinet on Monday welcomed the recommendations of the 34th meeting of the GCC Interior Ministers in Doha and highlighted the statement made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif at the meeting on the importance of global cooperation to fight...
RIYADH: Difficult terms and conditions as well as the complicated process have disappointed many women who aspired to contest the third municipal council elections.This resulted in limiting the number of women candidates to just 979 against 5,938 men...
JEDDAH: More donations are needed to assist children with disabilities in the Kingdom because treatment costs for one child is about SR100,000 a year, said Prince Sultan bin Salman.Prince Sultan, who is the chairman of the Disabled Children’s Associa...
DAMMAM: Six elementary school students have been isolated on suspicion of having swine flu, said officials at King Fahd Bridge Elementary School in Alkhobar. The Department of Health Affairs in the Eastern Province sent a medical team to transfer the...
JEDDAH: The General Directorate of Passports is continuing its efforts to fight fraud and attempts to circumvent visa regulations, said director Suleiman Al-Yahya.“We are implementing the directives of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier a...
JEDDAH: In an effort to provide citizens with healthy and equitable living conditions, Jeddah Municipality has begun a unique initiative to solve the problem of food waste.To do this, community workers have distributed some 900 containers across the...
RIYADH: The Riyadh Municipality clamped down on a commercial center in the capital for want of license and due to several irregularities. Abdullah Al-Tayyar, head of the Rawdah municipality in the Riyadh region, said the management of the commercial...
Dr. Hanan Al-Ghamdi, assistant professor of Hepatobiliary and Laparoscopic Surgery at the University of Dammam, has warned that Saudi Arabia is located in the ‘red zone’ in relation to the prevalence of overweight and obese nationals.“The overall pro...
RIYADH: Three Saudi companies won the prestigious Prima Duta Awards 2015 conferred by the Indonesian government for promoting trade between the two nations.The awards were handed out at the Indonesian Embassy in the Diplomatic Quarter on Sunday to Sa...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has donated $5 million for the education of Syrian children who have been affected by the ongoing war in their country.A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the Saudi Fund For Development (SFD) and Unicef for the...
HAIL: Twenty-two male and four female candidates are competing for six seats in the Hail municipal council. In a recent poll, candidates confirmed they have been preparing their electoral platforms and campaigns in accordance with regulations for qui...
MADINAH: Two teenagers drowned in the Al-Jufran Valley recently, taking the toll of those killed during the recent rain to 12, the Civil Defense in Madinah has said.On Nov. 15, three youths drowned in the region, where heavy rain in the last two week...
QASSIM: A 60-year-old document written by a school principal on the situation of rain in the Qassim region has sparked off a debate on social media whether schools should be shut during heavy rain in the Kingdom. The 20-word telegram, a copy of which...
RIYADH: The National Guard Ministry has renewed its invitation to Germany to join the National Festival for Heritage and Culture, Janadriyah, as the guest of honor. “We are very happy to accept the invitation again,” German Ambassador to Kingdom, Bor...

Events & Exhibitions

Stay Connected