July 23, 2011 By

Amidst boycott and Clampdown, Polling Favours New Constitution

2_3Over ninety percent of the Egyptian voters who participated in the constitutional poll  voted for the new constitution, indicating positive results in the election for the army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, amidst mounting criticism that the poll was one-sided with the intense clampdown on the Brotherhood and the boycott of the poll declared by the org . The constitutional poll took place on January 14 and 15 and if approved will replace the Islamist charter. The Constitution gives power and immunity to the military and is widely seen as an opening for the country’s defense minister and top general, Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, to run for president.

Sisi is seen as the most powerful figure in Egypt after he overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president in July last year. The citizens who had been protesting against Morsi’s rule highly supported the move. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood had called for a boycott of the two-day vote, perceiving it as part of a coup against their leader and had called for anti-government protests. The clashes that caused the death of nine people on Tuesday have been continuing till now. The protestors supporting Morsi tussled with the police near the presidential palace. Birdshot rifles, bladed weapons and molotoy cocktails were seized by the police. No deaths have been reported till now.

Muslim Brotherhood had faced intense clampdown, with many of its leaders arrested and assets seized. Egyptian news media sympathetic to the Brotherhood were shut down and many other secular minded activists have also been detained in recent months. According to The Interior Ministry reports four hundred and forty four people were arrested during the two days of voting for protesting and disrupting the poll.

The referendum is seen by authorities as a crucial move in the plans for political changeover by the interim government. Authorities said that the new charter will provide greater protection for freedom of speech and rights of women. It will also put an end to the Islamist inspired wordings in the previous charter during the time of Morsi. The military’s spokesman thanked the “masses” of voters for participating in what he called the “heroic battle of the referendum”. Interim president Adly Mansour’s government has said that the referendum will be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections.

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