[QODLink]
Middle East

Egypt polls close after final day of voting

Two-day referendum on new constitution is first ballot since army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in July.

Last updated: 15 Jan 2014 20:29
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Final results will be announced within 72 hours, according to the high electoral commission [AFP]

Polls have closed in a two-day referendum on Egypt’s new constitution, the first ballot since the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi on July 3.

If the charter is approved, as it almost certainly will be, it will replace a 2012 constitution drafted during Morsi’s short-lived presidency.

In interviews at polling stations across the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Tuesday and Wednesday, not a single person said they planned to vote against the document.

Many Egyptians view the charter as a key step towards restoring political stability and fixing their country’s battered economy.

The army-backed interim government also needs high turnout to demonstrate that it has popular support. State radio said that 28 percent of voters participated in the first day of voting, a claim that is hard to gauge: Voters said the lines were shorter than during the 2012 referendum, but there were also more than twice as many polling stations, which should result in shorter queues.

Visits to polling stations suggest that second-day turnout would be lower. A queue in the upscale Zamalek district that stretched for two blocks on Tuesday had just four voters on Wednesday afternoon.

"We need to turn the page on the Muslim Brotherhood," said Bassim Guirguis, a pharmacist leaving the polls. "Egypt can’t survive another year like the one that just passed."

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, meanwhile, made the oddly precise and highly implausible claim that 91.7 percent of voters were boycotting the referendum. The party suggested that most of the people voting were Christians, stepping up a sectarian campaign that has long blamed Egypt’s Coptic minority for Morsi’s ouster.

The state-run National Council for Human Rights said it had received more than 200 complaints, many of them concerning polling stations that opened late, or election observers who were barred from entering. But there were no widespread reports of irregularities.

There were also no reports of violence on Wednesday. At least 11 people were killed in clashes across the country on Tuesday, and a bomb damaged a courthouse in Cairo’s Imbaba neighbourhood two hours before polls opened.

Police arrested one man in Cairo for writing "no to military trials" on his ballot. The new constitution, like its predecessor, allows the military to prosecute civilians for attacks on army personnel or institutions.

Final results will be announced within 72 hours, according to the high electoral commission.

410

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
Remnants of deadly demonstrations to be displayed in a new museum, a year after protests pushed president out of power.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.