Cairo: Egypt on Saturday announced a referendum on a new draft constitution will be held in January, the first step towards reinstalling democratic rule in the country polarised since the removal of President Mohammed Morsi.
"I call upon you to vote in a referendum on the draft revised constitution on January 14 and 15," military-backed interim President Adly Mansour said in an address to the nation.
He called on those who opposed the current political set- up to "give up on their stubbornness" and to stop "following a mirage".
A successful referendum on the draft constitution would clear the way for polls in the country, ruled by the military- backed regime since the ouster in July of Morsi, the country`s first freely elected president.
The draft suspends the previous constitution written under the rule of Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Morsi`s removal caused deep divisions amid a sweeping crackdown on his supporters that has left over 1,000 people dead and thousands more arrested.
The drafting committee submitted the document to Mansour at the beginning of this month.
According to the transitional roadmap announced by the interim regime, the amended constitution must be approved by a national referendum.
The constitutional drafting committee decided to leave the issue of whether to hold presidential or parliamentary elections first to Mansour.
The new draft aims to replace the 2012 constitution, which was drafted by an assembly dominated by Islamists, and faced widespread political opposition. That constitution was approved by a referendum in December 2012, with 64 per cent of votes. The total turnout was only 33 per cent.
"Let this constitution be a word of justice, that unites and doesn`t separate...For hatred is a tool for destruction... disagreement is legislated, as long it adopts peacefulness and is in the country`s interest," Mansour said in his speech.
Amr Moussa, head of the committee that put together the new draft, said the panel had drafted a "balanced constitution" which provides freedoms, rights and separation of powers.
The new constitution protects freedoms of belief, opinion, and creation and provides gender equality, Moussa said.