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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Constitution 'sets up new republic'

Published 26/12/2012 | 18:25

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Egypt President Mohammed Morsi prepares to make a televised address to the nation in Cairo (AP)

Egypt's disputed constitution establishes a new republic, president Mohammed Morsi said as he urged the opposition to join a dialogue to heal rifts and shift the focus to repairing the economy.

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Mr Morsi said he acknowledged the "respectable" proportion that voted against the constitution drafted by his Islamist allies, but offered no concrete gestures to an opposition that has so far rejected his dialogue and vowed to fight the charter. Critics say the charter restricts freedoms and enshrines Islamic rule.

Mr Morsi said he moved swiftly to put the constitution to a referendum to end instability and open the road for development. The opposition had urged him to postpone the vote.

The constitution passed with a 63.8% "yes" in the referendum, the election commission announced on Tuesday, rejecting opposition allegations of significant vote fraud.

Turnout of 32.9% of Egypt's nearly 52 million registered voters was lower than most other elections since the uprising nearly two years ago that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.

The opposition had campaigned against it with massive street protests that sometimes turned deadly, arguing that it will usher in Islamic rule in Egypt and restrict freedoms. It has vowed to challenge the referendum results and fight for a share of power in the upcoming parliamentary vote expected within two months.

Press Association

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