Egypt waits on referendum results

2012-12-24 11:31
An Egyptian woman casts her vote on a new constitution supported by the ruling Islamists but bitterly contested by a secular-leaning opposition at a polling station in Cairo. (Marco Longari, AFP)

An Egyptian woman casts her vote on a new constitution supported by the ruling Islamists but bitterly contested by a secular-leaning opposition at a polling station in Cairo. (Marco Longari, AFP)

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Cairo - Egypt on Monday was awaiting official results of a referendum on a new constitution reportedly backed by two-thirds of voters but which the opposition alleged was riddled with fraud.

"No official date has been fixed" for the final polling figures, a member of the electoral commission, Mohamed el-Tanobly, told AFP. State media had reported the count could be given on Monday.

The Muslim Brotherhood backing President Mohammed Morsi and media say an unofficial tally shows 64% of ballots backed the new charter.

But the National Salvation Front opposition coalition claims numerous instances of polling "fraud and violations" and is demanding the electoral commission investigate before issuing its official figures.

"The referendum is not the end of the road. It is only one battle," the Front also said in a statement. "We will continue the fight for the Egyptian people."

The challenge suggested no quick end to Egypt's political crisis, which erupted a month ago when Morsi allocated himself near-absolute powers to push through the charter written up by an Islamist-dominated panel.

Fierce protests, including violent clashes on 5 December that killed eight people and wounded hundreds, led to Morsi giving up those powers early this month.

Egypt remains a deeply polarised nation.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, testing newfound power after decades of being sidelined by ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, are spearheading changes to infuse the country with a more Islamist character favoured by the vast poorer part of the population. They say the new constitution will usher in stability.


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