Egyptian votes on constitutional draft being counted
Cairo: Amid allegations of widespread vote rigging by rights activists, the counting of votes in the first round of referendum on constitutional draft was underway in Egypt on Sunday.
The voting was marred by widespread fraud claims including suppression of voting by opponents of the charter, particularly women, Christians. A coalition of rights groups said the first round was invalid and should be held over again.
That appeared highly unlikely. The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, said the constitution was on route to approval.
As per the unofficial figures showed on Sunday, Egyptians have narrowly backed an Islamist constitution in the first round of a referendum over the contentious draft.
Preliminary results showed 55.8 percent backed the draft, according to the Brotherhood. Its count was based on a compilation of results announced at each individual polling station. In past elections, the Brotherhood`s counts have proven largely accurate.
The strongest "no" vote was in Cairo, with 68 percent, according to the official website of Egypt`s state television. The "yes" vote narrowly carried Egypt`s second largest city, Alexandria, with nearly 56 percent.
The head of the referendum commission said the official results will be announced after the second and last round, scheduled for next Saturday. It was an indication that reports of violations will not stop the process, at least at this stage. Islamists enjoy wide support in most of the 17 provinces in the second round.
The claims of violations are likely to further stoke tensions ahead of the second round, as each camp works to mobilize a population that largely opted to stay on the sidelines of the rivalry.
Over the past three weeks, hundreds of thousands from both camps have held rival protests in the streets that sparked violence leaving at least 9 people dead.
Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan dismissed the rights groups` allegations as politically motivated to sway public opinion.
Despite worries over the vote`s fairness, voters "should do down in big numbers to say no," a member of the main opposition National Salvation Front, Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr, told a press conference. The group called for new protests Tuesday.
Many voters who backed the charter argue that men who fear God have written the text, and it must be given a chance.
With Agency Inputs
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