Egypt referendum campaign kicks off

2012-12-13 21:46
An Egyptian activist from 6th of April Movement prepares a banner to campaign against a new draft constitution and call Egyptians to vote "No" in the upcoming referendum in Cairo. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

An Egyptian activist from 6th of April Movement prepares a banner to campaign against a new draft constitution and call Egyptians to vote "No" in the upcoming referendum in Cairo. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - Islamists backing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the secular opposition ranged against them were on Thursday rolling out campaigns over a divisive new constitution that has sparked weeks of protests.

The staggered referendum to decide the text is to begin on Saturday across half of Egypt, including in Cairo and Alexandria. The rest of the country will vote a week later, on 22 December.

The protests, and over near-absolute powers that Morsi gave himself for two weeks to push it through, have failed to sway the president from his path.

"It's you who will pay the price if you vote yes. No to the constitution," said an online campaign advertisement by an opposition group called 6 April.

The pro-referendum camp has released videos with a song that goes "This constitution is not too bad, it was written by a committee of heroes."

It also has supporters holding "Yes to the constitution" placards along main roads.

Fears of violence remain after violent clashes in Cairo last week in which eight people were killed and more than 600 injured.

Thousands of soldiers and 130 000 police will be deployed on Saturday to provide security, officials told AFP.

Morsi has ordered the army to secure state institutions, giving it powers of arrest until the referendum result is known.


The military, which ruled for 16 months following the ousting of president Hosni Mubarak early last year, has tried in vain to bring both sides together for talks to calm the crisis.

Morsi ordered the referendum to be split because of a lack of judges willing to monitor voting.

The opposition National Salvation Front, while urging its supporters to vote "no", warned it could yet call a last-minute boycott if the referendum was not brought back to just one day of voting, and if judges and independent observers did not monitor every polling station.

"The Salvation Front will not recognise the results of a referendum that does not occur in conditions of total transparency," it said in a statement, adding that it "deeply feared" that would be lacking.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a former UN nuclear energy agency chief who heads the Front, tweeted: "Insistence on referendum in an explosive, polarized, chaotic & lawless environment is leading country to the brink."

Egyptian citizens were divided over the referendum.

"I'm voting yes," said Mohammed Hassan, a 28-year-old Cairo resident.

Constitution bloody

"The Muslim Brotherhood is good. No one has given them a chance. They've been in power for five months compared to 30 years for Mubarak," he said.

Hamdi Imam, a street bookseller in his 50s, said: "I'm not going to vote because the constitution has blood on it... The Muslim Brotherhood will destroy the country."

The referendum outcome was uncertain, though many analysts thought it likely to pass, given the Brotherhood's efficiency in mobilising Egypt's vast poorer segment of society.

The opposition sees the proposed charter, drafted by a panel dominated by Islamists, as weakening human and gender rights, bolstering the military and undermining the judiciary's independence.

It fears ambiguities and loopholes in the charter will push Egypt closer to a form of sharia law favoured by the more ultra-orthodox Islamists.

The UN human rights chief, the United States, European nations and international watchdogs have also criticised the draft constitution and the way it was rammed through.

Read more on:    egypt  |  north africa  |  egypt elections 2012

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Meet instagram star, Pumpkin the racoon

With 300 000 followers and growing Pumpkin is winning over the internet!



The cats that cost R35 000
Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy
13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

In order to really connect to your feelings, you need to quieten your mind. Let go of expectations and connect to the moment more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.