Sunday 23 November 2014

Egypt approves Islamist laws with 32pc turnout

Shaimaa Fayed Cairo

Published 26/12/2012 | 05:00

A veiled Egyptian woman casts her vote at a polling station in the second round of a referendum on a disputed constitution drafted by Islamist supporters of president Mohammed Morsi, in Giza, Egypt.

Egypt has approved a new Islamist-backed constitution.

The vote was carried with 63.8pc according to the so-called Supreme Election Committee.

Turnout was just 32.9pc, the commission said.

But Opposition spokesman Khaled Dawoud said "We still believe because of the low turnout, this is not the constitution the Egyptians people had aspired for."As news of the approval was announced the government introduced new strict limits on carrying cash abroad to save the economy from collapse after weeks of street violence and political disarray.

Accused

President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist elected this year after a 2011 revolution toppled long-serving autocrat Hosni Mubarak, has been accused by liberal, leftist and Christian opponents of ramming through a basic law mixing religion with politics.

Mr Morsi says the charter has sufficient guarantees of minority rights, and that quickly enacting it will bring an end to the unrest plaguing Egypt since Mubarak's ouster in the wave of revolts across the Middle East and North Africa.

The referendum result appears to have never really been in doubt, and opposition groups which marched for weeks against the new charter did not announce plans for any major demonstrations to mark the official announcement.

Unofficial tallies from Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood had accurately showed the charter was approved by a 64pc majority. In a move aimed at preventing capital flight and a potential bank run, the government banned people from carrying more than $10,000 (€7,572) in foreign currency cash in or out of the country.

A growing sense of crisis has gripped Egypt's polarised society, with a rush by Egyptians to take out savings from banks compounding worries about the future of its economy.

This week, Standard & Poor's cut Egypt's long-term credit rating.

Before the results announcement, Egyptian prime minister Hisham Kandil told the nation of 83 million that the government was committed to taking steps to heal the economy.

"The main goals that the government is working towards now is plugging the budget deficit, and working on increasing growth to boost employment rates, curb inflation, and increase the competitiveness of Egyptian exports," he said.

The government says its opponents are contributing to the economic crisis by prolonging the state of unrest. Mr Morsi's opponents say by pushing through the contentious text he has made it harder to build a consensus needed for economic reform.

The central bank said on Monday it would take steps to "safeguard" bank deposits, without giving any details.

Some Egyptians withdrew cash from accounts out of concern that the authorities might freeze deposits.

If the "yes" vote is confirmed, a parliamentary election will follow in about two months.

Irish Independent

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