Tight security as Egypt votes on constitution

2014-01-15 08:32
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Egyptians vote on constitution

Egyptians have thronged to polling stations across the country to vote on a new constitution. See all the pictures here.

kalahari.com

  • Egypt
    This book is jam packed with all the fascinating facts and information you need to know about Egypt. Now R149.00
    buy now
Cairo - Egyptians queued to vote amid tight security Tuesday in a referendum on a new constitution likely to launch a presidential bid by the army chief who overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

Polling at most stations went smoothly, but eight people were killed in clashes outside Cairo between Morsi supporters and police and anti-Morsi groups, security officials said.

The violence highlighted the government's precarious grip on the most populous Arab nation, still reeling from Morsi's ouster and a crackdown on his supporters.

An Islamist coalition led by the former president's Muslim Brotherhood had urged protests and a boycott of the two-day vote, which ends on Wednesday.

A small bomb exploded outside a Cairo court shortly before polls opened without causing any casualties, as hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police deployed to guard polling stations.

The interior ministry had pledged to confront any attempt to disrupt voting.

Three people were killed in the town of Kerdasa, south of Cairo, and five died in central and southern Egypt when protesters clashed with police and civilian opponents.

Before the voting ended, at least 140 people, including some Brotherhood members, had been arrested for disrupting the polling in some areas, security officials said.

Parliamentary and presidential elections

Defence minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who overthrew Morsi, visited a polling station at a Cairo school to inspect security preparations on Tuesday.

"Work hard. We need the referendum to be completely secured," he told soldiers guarding the school.

State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said that the United States was concerned by reports of violence but added that it was awaiting the reports of "independent observers on the technical merits of the ongoing referendum".

A clause in a Congress bill expected to pass on Friday allows the White House to unfreeze $1.5bn in aid to Cairo if it can certify that Egypt "has held a constitutional referendum, and is taking steps to support a democratic transition".

The Egyptian government hopes a large turnout in favour of the constitution will bolster its disputed authority, while Sisi will monitor it for an "indicator" of his popularity, an official close to the general said.

Interim president Adly Mansour called for a big turnout.

"The people must prove to dark terrorism that they fear nothing," he said after casting his vote.

"The voting is not only for the constitution, but also for the roadmap, so the country can have an elected president and a parliament."

Mansour's government has pledged the referendum will be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections.

Security forces deployed across the country amid fears recent attacks by militants would deter voters.

At one polling station for women, dozens queued to cast their ballots, some waving Egyptian flags and chanting pro-military slogans.

"We must be with our police and army so that no one can terrorise us. Even if a bomb exploded in my polling station, I would vote," said Salwa Abdel Fattah, a 50-year-old gynaecologist.

It is unclear how many Egyptians will turn out to vote, but the constitution appears certain to pass.

Charter bolsters army's powers

The charter has done away with much of the Islamist-inspired wording of Morsi's constitution, suspended on his overthrow, and its supporters say it expands women's rights and freedom of speech.

But it has bolstered the military's powers, granting the army the right to appoint the defence minister for the next eight years and to try civilians for attacks on the armed forces.

The run-up to the vote was marred by a crackdown on Morsi's supporters and arrests of activists who campaigned for a "no" vote.

The capital has been festooned with banners urging Egyptians to vote "yes", often featuring military motifs such as a general's hat, an allusion to Sisi.

Many Islamists revile Sisi as the man who overthrew the country's first freely elected and civilian president, but the general is adored by millions who took to the streets to demand Morsi's resignation.

He is widely expected to run for president, and has said he would stand if there was "popular demand", state media reported this week.

The authorities are worried a low turnout would empower their Islamist opponents and cast further doubts on their legitimacy, analysts say.

"Prove to the world that what happened was a popular revolution," interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim said during a visit to a polling station.

Backers of the constitution are hoping it will receive the support of at least 70% of votes cast.

Morsi's constitution passed with 64% of the vote, but on a turnout of barely 33% of the country's 53 million voters.

Since Morsi's ouster, at least 1 000 people have been killed, most of them Islamists, and thousands more detained.

Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  abdel fattah al-sisi  |  egypt  |  north africa  |  egypt crisis
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com 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
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Langa 05:59 AM
Road name: N2 Inbound

SARIOUS CRASH at the N7 off-ramp - RAMP CLOSED

Kuils River 17:58 PM
Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound

ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Jan 21 - Feb 18
Jan 21 - Feb 18

You may be inspired to do things that expand your mind in a big way today. You have a need to explore and a need to please....read more

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

Hello 

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 24.com network.

Settings

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.