CAIRO - A constitution commemorating a new era in Egypt's future was approved in a referendum after the second round of vote showed a greater support for the document among Egyptians, officials in rival camps announced preliminary results early on Sunday, December 23.
"According to our calculations, the final result of the second round is 71 percent voting 'yes' and the overall result (of the two rounds) is 63.8 percent," a Brotherhood official, who was in an operations room monitoring the vote, told Reuters.
The vote passed off peacefully with long queues forming in the 17 provinces that did not vote in the first round on 15 December.
Some 25 million people were eligible to vote in the second round.
The counting started immediately after polling stations closed at 11 p.m. after a four-hour extension.
The Muslim Brotherhood movement said early on Sunday that, with most votes counted, more than 70% were in favor; a much higher percent than the first round's 57%.
Counting the two rounds, results reported by Egyptian state media suggest that some 63% backed the charter over two rounds of voting.
These figures were confirmed by a statement issued shortly afterwards by the Freedom and Justice Party and broadcast on its television channel.
"The Egyptian people continue their march towards finalizing the construction of a democratic modern state, after turning the page on oppression," the Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, said in a statement cited by AFP.
The Brotherhood and its party, as well as members of the opposition, had representatives monitoring polling stations and the vote count across the country.
The constitution is meant to be the cornerstone of democracy after three decades of army-backed autocracy under President Hosni Mubarak.
The referendum committee may not declare official results for the two rounds until Monday, after hearing appeals.
If the outcome is confirmed, a parliamentary election will follow in about two months.
An opposition official also told Reuters their unofficial count showed the result was a "yes" vote.
The opposition said voting in both rounds was marred by abuses and had called for a re-run after the first stage. However, an official said the overall vote favored the charter.
"They (Islamists) are ruling the country, running the vote and influencing the people, so what else could we expect," the senior official from the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, told Reuters.
Hours before polls closed, Vice President Mahmoud Mekky announced his resignation.
In a resignation letter, Mekky said that although he had held on in the post he had "realized for some time that the nature of political work did not suit my professional background as a judge".
The timing of Mekky's move appeared linked to the fact there is no vice-presidential post under the draft constitution.
Moving forward, President Mohamed Morsi announced late on Saturday the names of 90 new members he had appointed to the upper house of parliament, state media reported, and a presidential official said the list was mainly liberals and other non-Islamists.
A spokesman for the National Salvation Front, which groups opponents who include liberals, socialists and other parties and politicians, said the Front's members had refused to take part.
Legislative powers, now held by Mursi because the lower house of parliament was dissolved earlier this year, will pass to the upper house under the new constitution.
Two-thirds of the 270-member upper house was elected in a vote this year, with one third appointed by the president.