News / Africa

Egyptian Voters Approve Constitutional Changes

An official examines votes from ballot boxes after the polls closed in Cairo, March 19, 2011
An official examines votes from ballot boxes after the polls closed in Cairo, March 19, 2011

Egyptian voters have overwhelmingly approved a referendum on constitutional changes, opening the door to early elections.

More than 14.1 million voters, or 77.2 percent, approved the constitutional amendments while 4 million, or 22.8 percent, voted against them. The government said Sunday the 41 percent turnout among the 45 million eligible voters broke all records for recent elections.

A number of "yes" voters said they supported the referendum in the hope it would restore stability after weeks of upheaval. Many were drawn to the polls in a massive, last-minute effort by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best organized opposition group.

The Brotherhood and remnants of the former ruling National Democratic Party were the referendum's main supporters. They argued the election timetable would ensure a swift return to civilian rule.

Most secular groups and leading reform activists opposed the measure, saying they lacked time to organize into effective political organizations.

The referendum is considered the first test of the country's move toward democracy. It included nine constitutional amendments proposed by a panel appointed by the military, which has been leading Egypt since last month's ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Among those most fearful of the Brotherhood's rising power are Egypt's estimated 8 million Coptic Christians, whose leaders rallied the faithful to vote "no."

Essam el-Erian, a Brotherhood spokesman, rejected claims the group had exploited its religious influence to persuade voters. He hailed the results, saying most Egyptians want to move forward toward rapid change. It was the first time the Brotherhood had campaigned openly since the party was banned in 1954.

In the day's only reported violence, reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei and a group of his supporters were pelted with rocks, bottles and cans outside a Cairo polling center in an attack he blamed on paid followers of the old government.

One of the changes limits a president to two four-year terms, making Egypt one of the few Arab republics to set such a restriction. Mr. Mubarak had ruled the North African country for three decades.

The referendum's passage paves the way for presidential and parliamentary elections by the end of the year with the military relinquishing power in 2012. 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.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid