Egypt`s `Yes` to Islamist constitution; opposition cries foul
Cairo: Egypt`s ruling Muslim Brotherhood Sunday claimed a referendum victory for a draft constitution with an Islamist-tilt, but the largely secular opposition cried foul over the result, terming it an attempt to "steal the people`s future" and vowing to challenge it to the last.
The second round of referendum vote appeared to have tilted the scale in favour of the constitution drawn by an Islamist-dominated parliament, with a preliminary tally of the vote showing 64 per cent `yes` votes as against 36 per cent against it, according to the state media.
Though the official result of the referendum is not expected until tomorrow, the Muslim Brotherhood led by President Mohamed Mursi claimed that over 71 per cent of the voters cast a "Yes" ballot for the charter yesterday in second and final round of voting after a narrower 56.5 per cent `yes` vote in the first round last week.
"According to our calculations, the final result of the second round is 71 per cent voting `Yes` and the overall result (of the two rounds) is 63.8 per cent," said an official of the Brotherhood`s political wing Freedom and Justice Party.
The opposition that had raised allegations of widespread irregularities after the first round of vote on December 15, again charged that the vote was won by fraud.
The National Salvation Front (NSF), a coalition of Egypt`s mostly secular opposition that has been pitted against the Islamists, pledged to appeal the result.
"We`re going to challenge this in the courts, we`re going to challenge this in the streets, we`re going to challenge this until we die, because we cannot recognise this wide attempt to steal the people`s future," Ahmed Hawary, a spokesperson for the NSF, was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.
In a statement, the NSF said it would file documentation related to the fraud allegations with the country`s electoral commission before the announcement of final results.
The opposition said violations like polling stations opening late and Islamists seeking to influence voters took place in the second round of referendum.
The draft constitution has caused serious divisions in Egypt as it was drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly from which representatives of the church and liberals withdrew.
The opposition sees the draft as being loaded with Islamist agenda and has expressed concern that it ignores the rights of Christians.
The charter, that was cleared by Egypt`s Constituent Assembly on November 30 in a marathon session, seeks to impose Islamic values, a move opposed by Liberals as an attempt to restrict freedom of speech and religion in the country.
The articles passed, stipulated that Islam is the religion of the state, and the principles of Sharia, or Islamic law, are the "main source of legislation".
A number of rights groups and opposition parties had filed complaints of violations during the two round vote. They complained that at several places vote was held without judges overseeing it.
Egypt`s Justice Ministry had ordered an investigation into the allegations after the first round of voting.
Many judges had also boycotted overseeing the referendum, in protest against Mursi`s action of "abduction" of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
The vote was held amid a tense environment in the country, closely after a presidential declaration that gave Mursi sweeping powers.
Eight were killed in deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of Mursi in front of the presidential palace earlier this month. Regular clashes also took place in a handful of governorates, including second largest city Alexandria.
In another development, Egypt`s vice-president Mahmoud Mekki announced his resignation, saying he intended to quit once the charter was adopted.
"I have realised a while ago that the nature of politics don`t suit my professional genesis as a judge," he wrote.
The new constitution, anyhow, eliminates the post of vice-president.
Meanwhile, members of the Egyptian prosecution protested in front of the High Judicial Court in Cairo to object to the prosecutor general retracting his resignation.
The members of the prosecution are to hold a meeting later to decide on how to react to the backtracking of the prosecutor on his resignation.