News Middle East

Saturday 25 February 2017

Egypt warned of second revolution after vote stalemate

Richard Spencer Cairo

Egypt appears braced for further uncertainty after a close result in the first round of voting for a new constitution led to both sides claiming a moral victory.

According to unofficial figures, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed constitution won 56.5pc of the vote as half of the country cast ballots at the weekend. The rest of the country votes next Saturday.

But a low turnout, claims of rigging and the closeness of the result will all prolong the crisis over its legitimacy. Mohamed ElBaradei, the leader of the secular and liberal opposition coalition, said a second revolution was "not far-fetched" if President Mohammed Morsi did not back away from the draft document. "Country split, flagrant irregularities, low turnout, disillusion with Islamists on the rise – illiteracy remains a hurdle," he said on Twitter.

The constitution, which was hurriedly drawn up by an Islamist-dominated assembly after Mr Morsi gave it and himself immunity from judicial oversight, has deeply split Egypt. The final turnout of 32pc in the vote – nine points lower than that for the interim constitution following last year's revolution – means less than one in five of those eligible voted in favour.

International human rights groups and the United Nations human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, as well as the opposition, have questioned the document's commitment to basic freedoms, and the opposition is now promising to reject it even if it is passed by an overall majority.

Ahmed El-Sayed El-Naggar, an economist said a "yes" would not stop the rot.

Irish Independent

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