News / Middle East

Egyptian Opposition Rejects Morsi's Planned Referendum

Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012.
Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Egypt's opposition National Salvation Front has announced that it will not participate in a December 15 referendum over a disputed draft constitution. Earlier, President Mohamed Morsi revoked part of a controversial decree giving him sweeping powers but insisted the referendum on the new document would go ahead as planned.

The head of Egypt's Journalists Union, Sameh Ashour, told reporters Sunday that National Salvation Front leaders has decided not to participate in the constitutional referendum due to take place next Saturday.

He says the National Salvation Front categorically refuses to take part in the December 15 referendum and will not give its blessing to a vote that will inevitably lead to more divisions and civil strife.

Ashour went on to blast President Morsi and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group for their decision to go ahead with the constitutional referendum.

He says that the National Salvation Front insists that what he calls repression, despotism and the hijacking of the state by the president and his (Muslim Brotherhood) group is contributing to the economic woes of all Egyptian families.

  • An Egyptian protester reads the newspaper as others sit next to their tents in Tahrir Square in Cairo, December 9, 2012
  • Egyptian men stand near writing on a wall in Arabic that reads down with the leader's rule, no to the Muslim Brotherhood in Tahrir Square in Cairo, December 9, 2012.
  • An Egyptian jet fighter flys over Tahrir Square as protesters gather, not pictured, in Cairo, December 9, 2012.
  • Anti-Mursi protesters walk near a military tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 8, 2012.
  • Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood welcome tanks arriving outside the Egyptian presidential palace in Cairo, December 6, 2012.
  • Egyptian Army soldiers install barbed wire outside the presidential palace to secure the site of overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 6, 2012
  • Anti-Morsi protesters set off fireworks and shine laser pointers on a road leading to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2012.
  • Protesters gather during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 5, 2012.
  • A wounded protester reacts during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace in Cairo, December 5, 2012.
  • Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi carry a body of one of six victims killed during Wednesday's clashes, Al Azhar mosque, Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2012.
  • Protesters opposing president Mohamed Morsi attend Friday prayers beneath a poster depicting protesters killed in the Egyptian revolution, Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2012.

Earlier Sunday, Egyptian Air Force jets overflew the center of Cairo at low altitude, as the country's political crisis continued unabated. A few hundred anti-Morsi protesters were clustered in both Tahrir Square and near the presidential palace.

Calls by the opposition for a protest march to the presidential palace did not appear to spur a major outpouring of demonstrators Sunday. However, opposition leaders are calling for a million-man demonstration on Tuesday.

Late Saturday, President Morsi made what opposition leaders called a “cosmetic” concession, agreeing to withdraw part of a controversial decree giving him sweeping powers.

Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the National Salvation Front, nevertheless continued to focus condemnation on the new draft constitution, which he said “thwarts our rights and freedom,” and “will be toppled today, before tomorrow.”

Analyst Omar Ashour, who teaches political science at the University of Exeter in Britain, says Mr. Morsi's decision to hold the referendum is clever, because it sends the dispute directly to the people.

"It was a very clever way to put it back to the people again, to signal that the opposition does not represent all Egyptians and the presidency does not represent all Egyptians. Whoever opposes (the referendum) will be un-democratic, will be the one who does not want to play (by) the rules of democracy and just wants to impose his will on the Egyptian people," he said.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party began its push for a yes vote in next Saturday's referendum, posting an audio version of the new draft constitution on its website.

However, Egypt's judiciary, which is needed to supervise polling, appears to remain hostile to the referendum. Al Arabiya TV reported that only 300 judges have agreed participate in the process, out of a pool of 4,000.

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by: Selim from: Sydney
December 09, 2012 9:03 PM
I don’t think Egypt and the Egyptians need a president
I think Egypt needs an elected Prime Minister rather than a president with a specific agenda to tackle issues like Economy, Unemployment, internal security and Human rights. Terms of service of round 2 years. A president maybe appointed by the Prime Minister to serve in a ceremonial role rather than becoming drunk with power as in the current situation.
President Morsi, in less than 6 months managed to divide his people and the nation, right in the middle
President Morsi is only supported by the extreme right not for anything other than his Islamic agenda
What we have seen so far is simply political hooliganism not Democracy
I would like to see the opposition in Parliament on TV not on the streets of Cairo!!
Democracy is not just demonstrations and vote. These are just the apparent features of it . The rest have never been practiced in Egypt since the British occupation.
Before replacing the constitution, Egyptians should review and upgrade their stand on human rights and how to device a document or a declarations that would comply with international standards.


by: Seth_DeKooters from: Hartford, CT
December 09, 2012 5:37 PM
Now that Mr. Morsi and the parties that support him have done everything his opposition has requested they still refuse to allow the democratic process to work. The reality is the holdovers from the Mubarak era, and the parties they recently formed, were people bought and subsidized both publicly and privately by the United States to "make peace with Israel" and to prevent a democracy from actually coming to fruition. Why, because America does not want the pro-Palestinian Egyptian popular will implemented, period. Whenever Israel's interests are at stake, it seems any deception or hypocrisy is permitted. Why? Because that is the teaching of the Talmud.
In Response

by: Lu from: Boynton Beach, Fl
December 09, 2012 8:45 PM
The main issue IS the constitution. The Muslim Brotherhood simply does not represent all of Egypt and their forcing through the constitution shows they know that, in time, the Egyptian people would know them and reject them.

Otherwise, why so thuggish?
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 09, 2012 8:26 PM
the constitution draft is made of one party .it is made from Muslim brotherhood point of view. the other group left the constitution left the assembly because Isla mist want impose their will by any means necessary. when moers
feel that legal system will reject that draft because it is only represent one party and ignore and existence of other Egyptian. moersi abolish legal system. the new draft has been criticize by united nation human right commission still moers and his party want impose Islamic law against the will of people . and he is fully aware that his group is a violent group will use that law as tool for violent act.it is the same story repeated from country to other country .Islamic law and civil war .it happen in Sudan and the shadow of civil war is about to happen in Egypt
In Response

by: Jim from: Vermont
December 09, 2012 8:11 PM
Seth, your reasoning Twilight Zone and while I do support the Palestinians over Israels attempt to steal their land, your comment regarding support of Israel shows a bias that has no basis in fact.
In Response

by: Allan
December 09, 2012 7:41 PM
" Now that Mr. Morsi and the parties that support him have done everything his opposition has requested "
That claim is wrong. The oppositions have requested to postpone the referendum as well.
In Response

by: Allan
December 09, 2012 7:35 PM
What democratic process are you talking about???!!! Is the new draft constitution proposed and written by all Egyptian political groups and guarantees the freedom and right of all the genders,religoins,.. and groups within the egypt or it is dictated by radical moslems that only dictates the islamic rules to govern the country to exclude all but the radical moslems that guarantees a moslem dictatorship for centuries to come???!!!!

by: farquar from: usa
December 09, 2012 2:40 PM
unless the referendem is written to include all people such as th ecopts, secularists, etc. into the constitution, there can be no United Egypt. Currently, the referendem only serves the ideals of islamists who want to use sharia law to bully everyone but themselves. Those who mete out the law are never found guilty - they always protect their own and do not have them go before these religious courts. so many women are raped, girls taken to forced marriages, men cheating on their wives - these men are never brought before other men to have their sin punished - it is always the women who suffer. the application of sharia law is corrupt and not just.
and the referendem does not protect the copts, who have every right to believe in Jesus, God etc. as an Egyptian.
the MB are liars and manipulators - buying people food so they vote for them....threatening others....trying to say if you don't support the MB you are a traitor - this is gross manipulation and lies. the people behind this referendum is Alziwari and eventually al queda - the Taliban -
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 09, 2012 4:05 PM
the population of Egypt is 85 million. more than 70 % are illiterate .illiterate person should not vote. most of them dragged like a sheep to voting place . the law should serve the interest all people. the law is a code that keep the people safe. if a woman cheat on her husband ,this is not a crime even it is a sin. She. did not harm any person. why under Islamic law stoned her to death

by: Anonymous from: Bangladesh
December 09, 2012 2:37 PM
This news is more related to the theory of Voluntarism then the other theories of conflict. Here, the opposition parties are playing a Voluntaristic role for the protest. It is questionable why they are still protesting when President Morsi has stepped back. Do they want extreme political unrest and then gain political benefit from that unrest or something else? Are there any other actors (such as army or outside actors) behind the scene? Otherwise, why are the groups so active to push back the government? Meanwhile, it appears that the institutions (although divided) are supporting President Morsi. Yet, we are hoping that in the long run this whole protest can bring good outcomes for Egyptian constitution and politics.

by: ali baba from: new york
December 09, 2012 11:54 AM
moersi who apply the three monkeys . the monkey who closes his ear. The monkey who close his eyes
.the monkey who close his mouth. He saw how people feel about his policy. But he continue regardless of feeling of people

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