Friday 15 December 2017

Egypt in turmoil as moderates reject vote results

Robert Tait Cairo

Egypt was facing fresh turmoil after the country's secular opposition rejected a referendum vote backing a new constitution as fraudulent and promised to overturn it.

The pledge, from the National Salvation Front, came as President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement hailed unofficial figures showing 64pc in favour of the constitution as a triumph.

With official results scheduled to be announced today, the Brotherhood said the constitution – which was drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly – represented "a historic opportunity to unite all national powers on the basis of mutual respect and honest dialogue for the sake of stabilising the nation".

But the chances of such an outcome seemed remote as National Salvation Front leaders alleged that voting in the poll had been riddled with "fraud and violations".

The movement declared its determination to appeal while pressing ahead with moves to merge the disparate group into a united political party.

They alleged that some polling stations stayed open late and that Islamists campaigned illegally in some places. There were also complaints of irregularities in voter registration.

"We are asking the (electoral) commission to investigate the irregularities before announcing official results," Amr Hamzawy, a member of the front, said, citing alleged fraud and a low turnout said to be around 30pc.

"Our struggle is peaceful, to bring down an invalid constitution," he said.

The opposition claims the new constitution seeks to enshrine Islamic rule in Egypt and accuses the Islamists of trying to monopolise power.


Critics say it does not sufficiently protect the rights of women and minority groups and empowers Muslim clerics by giving them a say over legislation. Some articles were also seen as tailored to get rid of Islamists' enemies and undermine the labour unions.

The opposition filed complaints to the top prosecutor and the election commission.

"The results of the referendum are for sure because of the rigging, violations and mismanagement that characterised it," the opposition group said.

However, the Brotherhood insisted violations were limited and should not affect the referendum's integrity. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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