News / Middle East

Egypt Casts Ballots for New Constitution

A woman dips her finger in ink after casting her vote in a referendum on Egypt's new constitution, at a school used as a polling station in Alexandria, Egypt, December 15, 2012.
A woman dips her finger in ink after casting her vote in a referendum on Egypt's new constitution, at a school used as a polling station in Alexandria, Egypt, December 15, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Long lines of people formed outside polling stations in the Egyptian capital Cairo Saturday, as voting got under way on a referendum for a controversial new constitution. The vote is being staggered over two successive Saturdays due to a boycott by a majority of the judiciary, which must oversee the vote by law.
 
A crowd of women sang Egypt's national anthem as they stood in line to vote in Central Cairo Saturday. Men and women voted separately at schools across the capital and 9 other provinces to express approval or disapproval of the new constitution.

Egypt's top opposition leaders, including Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the National Salvation Front, urged supporters to vote "no." Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist "Nour" Party called on their partisans to vote "yes."
 
​Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who refused to postpone the referendum despite pleas from opposition leaders and much of the judiciary, was shown on state TV casting his ballot near the presidential palace. Morsi was surrounded by a large number of bodyguards.

Clashes erupt
 
Supporters and opponents of the controversial constitution clashed just hours before polls opened in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. Amateur video showed crowds of young men throwing rocks and firecrackers at each other near the city's Qaid Ibrahim mosque.
 
The governor of Alexandria, Hassan Prinz, deplored the violence and urged voters to express their opinions at the ballot box.  Prinz  said that every citizen has the right to vote yes or no and we must let the ballot box determine the future of the country, since this is democracy and we must accept it.
 
Former Arab League head and unsuccessful presidential candidate Amr Moussa was a bit more critical of the democratic process and its potential results.  Moussa said that the opposition did not contest the election of President Mohamed Morsi, but that a constitution is different, because it should be accepted by a large majority of the people to be legitimate.

Egyptians Discuss Their Referendumi
|| 0:00:00
X
Al Pessin
December 15, 2012 11:20 PM
VOA's Al Pessin talks to voters as they cast ballots for a new constitution.
Divided opinion
 
Many Arab analysts point to the fact that Egyptian public opinion is extremely polarized over the controversial constitution, which was approved by a rump committee made up of mostly Islamist members, in a marathon overnight session, 15 days ago.
 
Egypt's Draft Constitution

  • Limits president to two four-year terms
  • Provides protections against arbitrary detention and torture
  • Islamic law, or Sharia, serves as the basis for legislation
  • Religious freedom is limited to Muslims, Christians and Jews
  • Citizens are deemed equal before the law and equal in rights
The pros and cons appeared almost evenly divided, as voters expressed their opinions at a polling station on Manial Island in central Cairo. Ahmed, a civil engineer, said that he opposes the document because of the mostly Islamist composition of the committee.  "The main problem, they always join Islamic rules with the politics," Ahmed noted.  "And we want to separate between these rules, because we have Christian, Muslim maybe some Jewish."
 
Omar, a virologist, supports the document, because he thinks that it will give Egypt some much needed stability. Omar said that he is in favor of holding the referendum, although he has some reservations about the constitution per se. Omar said that he thinks the vote creates movement in the political process at a time when it is not a good idea to make the transition period longer.
 
Voting officials extended the election by two hours Saturday because of heavy voter turnout.
 
The voting has been split into two rounds over two Saturdays, each round covering different regions of the country. 
 
Voters in 14 Egyptian provinces are due to vote next Saturday. It was not immediately clear when final results would be announced.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hanno Phoencia from: USA
December 15, 2012 7:49 PM
I've traveled in Egypt, most women there don't wear veils. Looking at the photo, I wonder if those opposed to Sharia law mostly boycotted the election? This isn't democracy, there's no judiciary, no parliament, one man rule, only Islamists making the rules and counting the ballots. They were better off under Mubarak.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid