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Middle East

Egypt referendum 'within 30 days'

Interim PM Beblawi urges all Egyptians to vote on revised constitution, calling it a "turning point" for the country.

Last updated: 03 Dec 2013 19:31
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Amr Mussa has given the draft constitution to Adly Mansour, who must decide on a referendum date [AFP]

Egypt's interim prime minister has said the referendum on the revised constitution will be held in the next 30 days.

Hazem el-Beblawi urged Egyptians to vote in what he described on Tuesday as a milestone in the country's path towards democracy.

Two secular-leaning panels spent three months rewriting Egypt's 2012 constitution, drafted by an Islamist-led panel and suspended after the toppling of former president Mohammed Morsi in a military coup in July.

The military-backed plan is a crucial test for the post-coup authorities, especially as they face continuing protests by Morsi's supporters and disenchantment from within the circles of pro-democracy advocates and liberal allies of the interim government over heavy-handed crackdowns on dissent.

"It's a turning point," Beblawi said of the coming vote.

"The first phase passed successful and with excellence ... We have to move to the next phase."

An exact referendum date must be chosen by Adly Mansour, the interim president, who received the final draft of the country's amended constitution earlier on Tuesday.

The text was given to Mansour by former Arab League chief Amr Mussa, who headed the 50-member drafting committee which completed its work on Sunday.

Mussa called on all Egyptians to take part in the referendum and to vote 'yes'.

"Egypt faces dangerous acts of sedition that we must bring to an end," he said.

Activists held

Finalising the draft comes amid a heavy-handed security crackdown on Morsi's supporters as well as leading activists protesting a new law that restricts the right to demonstrate.

Youth leader Ahmed Duma became the latest prominent Egyptian to be arrested on Tuesday.

Judicial sources said he was ordered detained for four days for organising an unauthorised demonstration and assaulting security forces.

Duma is the third pro-democracy activist to be detained within a week, as Egyptian authorities widen their crackdown on protesters since Mansour passed a law on November 24 banning all unauthorised demonstrations.

His wife, Nurhan Hefzy, said earlier on Tuesday that he had been arrested for participating in a violent protest.

"He is now being interrogated by the prosecution," she said.

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Source:
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