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Egyptian voters at a polling station in Cairo yesterday. Demotix /Adham Khorshed/Demotix/Press Association Images
Egypt

Majority votes 'yes' to Egyptian constitutional reforms

Over three-quarters of voters who turned out to poll yesterday have accepted reforms sponsored by Egypt’s ruling military, paving the way for early presidential and parliamentary elections.

EGYPTIAN VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY approved changes in the constitution, paving the way for parliamentary and presidential elections within months, according to final results from a landmark referendum announced yesterday.

Opponents fear the swift timetable could boost the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and members of the former ruling party.

The Brotherhood had campaigned heavily for a “yes” vote in the referendum.

Critics say that since it and the former ruling party are the best organised political forces in the country, they stand to gain the most in an early election — which will bring in Egypt’s first democratically elected government to replace the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The results are likely to open a frenzied campaign season, with liberal pro-democracy forces scrambling to put together political parties to contest the upcoming races.

Shady Ghazali, one of the organisers of the protests that forced Mubarak out after 18 days, said the youth coalition that led the demonstrations is discussing putting forward a national list of candidates for the parliamentary elections under its name.

The parliamentary and presidential elections are key because the next legislature and government are to lead the process of wider change, including likely drawing up a new constitution.

Many of those who led the wave of popular protests that ousted Mubarak on 11 February want a radically new document that would break the total hold that the presidency held over government during Mubarak’s rule. They worry that the Brotherhood or former ruling party could dominate the process.

Reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei and a group of his supporters were pelted with rocks, bottles and cans outside a polling centre at Cairo’s Mokattam district in an attack he blamed on followers of the old regime.

The day was otherwise almost entirely peaceful.

Elections commission chief Ahmed Attiya said 41 per cent of 45m eligible voters cast ballots in Saturday’s referendum. More than 14m — 77.2 per cent — voted in favour, with around 4m — 22.8 per cent — opposed.

- AP

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