News / Africa

Egyptian Rights Groups Ask for Referendum 'Restage'

A protester looks at graffiti on cement blocks in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 16, 2012.
A protester looks at graffiti on cement blocks in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 16, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Tentative results from Saturday's first round of voting in Egypt's constitutional referendum are showing a narrow lead for supporters of the document.  Opposition and civil society groups allege vote fraud, while the head of Egypt's electoral commission denied those charges.

Egyptian media and rival political groups are reporting that around 56.5 percent of voters approved the country's controversial new constitution in the first round of polling Saturday. Initial results also indicate that about one-third of 26 million eligible voters cast their ballots.

Voting, however, was marred by various irregularities and violations, according to witnesses. Civil society groups are urging the government to repeat the first round because of alleged fraud.

Opposition leader Sameh Ashour charged, in a press conference, that many of those allowed to supervise polling stations were not judges. A large portion of Egypt's judiciary boycotted the referendum, and a top judicial body, the Judges' Club, he claims, observed many non-judges overseeing the vote.

Related: VOA's Al Pessin talked with Egyptians as they cast their ballots

Ashour says it should be ample evidence that the Judges' Club, which is boycotting the referendum, determined there were 120 individuals falsely impersonating judges and allowed to supervise polling stations and vote counting.

Baha'eddin Hassan of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights told reporters that a variety of violations and fraud took place during Saturday's voting.

He says the numerous irregularities included preventing civil society groups from observing the vote, allowing members of the Muslim Brotherhood to enter polling stations, and allowing "pseudo-judges" to resort to violence and thuggery and terrorize voters.

Despite the charges, the judge who heads Egypt's High Electoral Commission, Zaghloul al-Balshi, insisted that the vote was impartial and fair.

He says the High Electoral Commission received various allegations which are creating a tempest among voters.  He says, however, that the charges are not true.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party argue that a “yes” vote for the new constitution will foster stability in the country and help Egypt move forward with its transition. Opponents say the document will create instability.

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
Opposition leaders claim that the draft constitution is deliberately vague and could lead to an theocracy, where Islamic clerics vet laws and legislate morality. They warn that the document does not protect women's rights and allows the president to pack the Supreme Court.

Sayyid Bedawi, of the opposition Wafd Party, warned that secular Egyptians would continue their peaceful protests against the document.

He says the Islamists want a civil war, but that neither the opposition, nor the Egyptian people will allow them to do that.  He charges that Islamists want to cheat with the referendum, but they won't get away with it, and the crisis won't go away.

Bedawi's Wafd Party offices in Giza were attacked and set on fire Saturday.  The opposition blamed members of an extremist Salafi faction.

A final round of the two-stage referendum will take place next Saturday in 17 remaining Egyptian provinces.  About 26 million people are on the voting roles for the second round - the same number eligible in the first round which covered 10 provinces including the capital, Cairo.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Floyd Mills from: Boulder Colorado USA
December 17, 2012 1:06 AM
To adopt a constitution the Egyptians should require the approval of at least a 2/3rds majority of the population. How can you subjugate 49% of a population and make them live under a system that the do not approve of. A constitution should be tailored to accommodate all of a countries people...or as close to that as is humanly possible. Certainly that is not what is happening in this constitutional election.

by: L Syed from: Cairo
December 16, 2012 12:51 PM
I think opposition should accept result and move forward to the General Election. If they claims they have popularity, they can win election and amend this constitution, whatever article they want. Reapeting is no end and if they win other party can also request and protest for repeat. There is not end of re-stage and there is no set rule in this case of re-stage accept allegation

by: Ela from: Cairo, Egypt
December 16, 2012 11:44 AM
Funny that the coalition will not accept any unofficial results while simultaneously releasing their own unofficial results. Their behavior is a repeat of Ahmed Shafiq's attempt to cast doubt on the Muslim Brotherhood's numbers for Morsi's victory over Shafiq in the presidential elections.
In Response

by: abdel nasser from: egypt
December 16, 2012 2:35 PM
abdel nasser said the true .you are liers and bunch of sheep

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More