News / Middle East

Egypt Referendum Passes, With Controversy

Egypt Referendum Passes, With Controversyi
X
January 16, 2014 4:27 PM
Egyptian officials say preliminary results indicate voters have endorsed the nation's military-backed constitution. But the divisive referendum has left at least a dozen people dead, hundreds injured and hundreds more in jail.
Watch video report by Elizabeth Arrott
Edward Yeranian
Egyptian officials say preliminary results indicate voters have endorsed the nation's military-backed constitution.

The outcome is seen as nudging army chief General Abdel Fatteh el Sissi closer to a bid for the presidency.

But violence surrounding the divisive referendum has left at least a dozen people dead, hundreds injured and hundreds more in jail. 

Student supporters of Egypt's now banned Muslim Brotherhood chanted slogans against the country's interim government Thursday at Cairo University, as election officials tallied votes in the two-day referendum on a new constitution.

​The vote comes six months after Egypt's military toppled the country's first democrqatically-elected President Mohamed Morsi in July after large protests against him and his government.

Initial reports show the new charter winning overwhelming approval of those who voted.

Final vote counts from around the country scrolled across the screens of Egyptian satellite channels throughout the day, showing “yes” votes in most districts of between 90 and 98 percent.  Many analysts say the Muslim Brotherhood's decision to boycott the referendum may explain the lack of a significant “no” vote.

Egypt Draft Constitution

  • Limits president to two four-year terms
  • President appoints prime minister with approval of parliament
  • President can dismiss government with approval of parliament
  • Defense minister must be a military officer
  • Civilians can be tried in military courts for certain offenses
  • Islamic law is the basis for legislation
  • Political parties cannot be based on religion, or have paramilitary components
The new constitution, if it is approved, will replace a 2012 charter adopted during the year-long tenure of ousted Islamist President Morsi. The 2012 constitution was approved by more than 63 percent of those voting, but turnout was only 33 percent.  Egyptian TV says at least half of Egypt's 51 million eligible voters turned out for the latest referendum.

One international monitor told Sky News Arabia that he and his team had “not seen any serious irregularities.”

A spokeswoman for Egypt's independent Ibn Khaldoun Center told a news conference the electoral commission had acted swiftly at reports of irregularities.

She says these included late openings at polling stations and impromptu closures for pretexts like eating and prayers.

Al Jazeera Direct, which secular political groups argue supports the Muslim Brotherhood, showed an amateur video in which it claimed to show the same person at a polling station voting more than once.  VOA could not confirm the authenticity of the video.

Egypt's Interior Ministry indicated it had arrested more than 400 people, many of them Muslim Brotherhood supporters, for carrying weapons and other legal infractions during the referendum.

Authorities have been cracking down on the Brotherhood since Morsi's removal, declaring it a terrorist group and arresting many of its leaders. The former president and others are on trial for allegedly inciting violence. More than a 1,000 of pro-Morsi supporters have been killed in the crackdown.

  • People line up to vote in the Egypt's constitutional referendum in Cairo, Jan. 15, 2014.
  • A voter inks her finger after casting her ballot in a two-day constitutional referendum in Cairo, Jan. 15, 2014.
  • Election workers and ballot boxes are seen inside a polling station during a referendum on the new constitution in Cairo, Jan. 15, 2014.
  • Egyptians women show their inked fingers after casting their votes at a polling station in Cairo, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Members of the Egyptian Interior Minister's security detail stand guard as voters line up at a polling station on the first day of voting in the country's constitutional referendum in the Zamalek neighborhood in Cairo, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • A woman holds a child as she casts her vote in the country's constitutional referendum in Hawamdaya, south of Cairo, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Coptic Pope Tawadros II shows his ink-stained finger after voting in the country's constitutional referendum at a polling station in Cairo, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • A soldier stands behind a protective barrier of sand bags outside a polling station in Cairo, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Supporters of the Egyptian Army and Army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi hold posters and shout slogans in front of a damaged building of a court complex after an explosion in Imbaba, north of Cairo, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • A view of the front of a damaged building of a court complex after an explosion in Imbaba, north of Cairo, Jan. 14, 2014.

Egyptian editor and publisher Hisham Kassem said he was both pleased and surprised by the large turnout for the constitutional referendum, because he thought many Egyptians had grown disaffected by the numerous ballots since the 2011 revolution.

"I am delighted that political fatigue did not hit the bulk of the Egyptian people," said Kassem. "I was really concerned... that Egyptians would have given up on democracy by now.  I went and voted myself, so I was standing there quietly listening to people.  [The voting] was self-motivated."

Kassem indicated it would have been preferable if the interim government had allowed “more space for the 'no' campaign,” but he argued that campaigning by Muslim Brotherhood activists in recent months had raised emotions, ending with “excess violence.”

If approved, this week's referendum would be followed by elections for a new president and parliament. El Sissi - who removed Morsi from power last year - is widely seen as a presidential favorite.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Prudent from: usa
January 19, 2014 9:27 PM
Our children will have a better chance to live free of terrorism, thanks to the courage of the Egyptian people who are facing the Muslim Brotherhood's tyranny. Go Egypt!

by: PermReader
January 16, 2014 12:45 PM
Crocodile`s tears on the terrorist gangs who violated the democratic election .The election`s result is the great slap in the face of the chief pro-Islamist in America!

by: Salisbury from: UK
January 16, 2014 7:56 AM
Al Sissi is the best thing for Egypt..!! and by extension - for the world... he is fighting the Muslim Brotherhood - a terrorist organization modeled on the Nazi Party... if Germany would have confronted that same menace in 1936, we would not have had to experience the horrors of WW2.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 16, 2014 7:45 AM
Wonderful reportage. The Egyptians have proved their choice of freedom, liberty and human rights to the draconian Muslim Brotherhood medieval setback. The overwhelming support the Egyptians showed and practiced in this referendum should be enough for the Brotherhood to know that the game is over for them. There is now no way it can want to insist on Morsi against the will of the generality of Egyptians who have chosen to do without him. The initial fear was whether a majority of Egyptians was going to heed the boycott call and stay away from voting; but that didn't come off. What remains is for the Muslim Brotherhood and its backers to see this as a function of democracy work in progress and submit to the will of the people, join hands with the rest in the polity to move the country forward again.

For now the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed, and the good thing those who still want to be called Muslim Brotherhood members should do for themselves and the country is hands off terrorism and violence, pipe low since what they once believed in no longer exists, and join hands with the rest of the country to try to reactivate the political process in Egypt until such a time as the military will feel safe enough to remain in their barracks. Of course the whole of the Middle East is a militarized zone, so it may not be good enough even to ask the military to stay far from politics in the region.

But taking a cue from Nigeria, the Egyptians should accept the situation as it is now as the most viable option open to them, perhaps encourage General Abdel Fatteh el-Sissi to run for political office as a civilian to be able to hold the wild boys in the barracks for a period of civilian rule - full cycle (two or three terms as approved in the constitution) - during which comprehensive constitution can be drawn up that places Egypt's military in its right perspective in a democracy.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
January 16, 2014 6:11 AM
According to democracy process Egyptian style, strong man General Abdel Fatteh el-Sissi will be elected as a President of Egypt by 99.99 percent of votes. Right?
In Response

by: senawy from: Egypt
January 16, 2014 8:17 AM
It is the painful truth , Cuz it return us to the unjust military rule once again (killing people ,Freedom go again ,and injustice police officers ...etc ).

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs