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Egyptians Decide On Constitution

Published: 22/12/2012 01:18:05 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Egyptians queued on Saturday, December 22, to vote in the second round of balloting expected to approve a new constitution and end weeks of unrest in the key Middle East country. We feel our voice matters, Shahina (more)

CAIRO - Egyptians queued on Saturday, December 22, to vote in the second round of balloting expected to approve a new constitution and end weeks of unrest in the key Middle East country.

"We feel our voice matters," Shahinaz Shalaby, a housewife, told Reuters.

Voting "yes", even though she disagreed with some clauses, she added that a "yes" vote would not stop protests but "then it will stabilize afterwards".

From early hours on Saturday, Egyptians queued outside the polling stations to decide on the country's future.

Army soldiers joined police to secure the referendum process after deadly protests during the build up to the referendum date.

To provide security for the vote, some 250,000 security personnel have been deployed nationwide to try to keep order during the referendum.

The constitution is meant to be the cornerstone of democracy after three decades of army-backed autocracy under President Hosni Mubarak.

Supporters say the passage of the constitution will bring stability to the country after months of turbulence since Mubarak's ouster last year.

If the constitution is passed, a parliamentary election will be held in about two months.

However, the opposition says the constitution is divisive and would cause more divisions in the country.

"I'm voting 'no' because Egypt can't be ruled by one faction," said Karim Nahas, 35, a stock market broker, heading to a polling station in Giza, a province included in this round of voting which covers parts of greater Cairo.

Polling stations opened at 8 am (0600 GMT) and close at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) though voting could be extended as it was last week.

Analysts expect another "yes" vote on Saturday because it covers rural and other areas seen as having more Islamist sympathizers.

Unofficial tallies are likely to emerge within hours of the close, but the referendum committee may not declare an official result for the two rounds until Monday, after hearing appeals.

Divisive

The opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) coalition warned that if the constitution was passed it would be a recipe for trouble since the charter has not received broad consensus backing from the population.

"I see more unrest," said Ahmed Said, head of the liberal Free Egyptians Party and a member of the NSF.

Citing what he said were "serious violations" on the first day of voting, he said anger against President Mohamed Morsi and his Islamist allies was growing.

"People are not going to accept the way they are dealing with the situation," Said added.

Opposition figurehead Mohammed ElBaradei has urged people to vote against the charter.

"We know that if this constitution is passed, there will be no stability," he said late on Thursday.

Opponents, who had earlier quit the drafting assembly saying their voices were not heard, were invited but stayed away.

Turning down several invitations for a national dialogue to find a way out of the crisis, opposition figures rejected a last invitation on Friday by the constitution's general assembly to talk on the disputed articles.

Mohamed Beltagy, a senior official in Freedom and Justice Party, said the constitution was crucial to holding a parliamentary election and setting up the essential institutions of state.

"What is the catastrophe of this constitution?" he asked the assembly which drafted the document, during a sitting on Friday that was called to challenge opposition criticism of the text.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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