News / Middle East

Egypt's Sissi in Focus Amid Draft Constitutional Vote

Egypt's Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at El-Thadiya presidential palace, Cairo, Nov. 14, 2013.
Egypt's Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at El-Thadiya presidential palace, Cairo, Nov. 14, 2013.
Reuters
Egyptians voted on Tuesday for the first time since the military deposed president Mohamed Morsi on a draft constitution that may set the stage for a presidential bid by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-El Sissi.
 
At least nine people were killed in confrontations between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and police, official sources said. Two small bombs went off, one in Cairo and one in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla, injuring no one.
 
The Brotherhood, still backing Morsi who is now in jail, has called for a boycott and protests over the draft, which deletes Islamic language written into the basic law approved a year ago when he was still in office. It also strengthens state bodies that defied him: the army, the police and the judiciary.
 
While a state crackdown has erased many freedoms won by the 2011 uprising against president Hosni Mubarak, anticipation of more stable government sent the stock market on Tuesday to its highest level since his downfall. The main index exceeded its January 2011 peak, in its fourth straight gain.
 
The referendum is a milestone in the political transition plan the army-backed government has billed as a path back to democracy even as it presses a fierce crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's best organised party until last year.
 
A presidential election could follow as early as April.
 
Echoing a view widely held in Egypt, a senior European diplomat said el Sissi would probably announce his candidacy in the next few days - a prospect that will delight supporters but could stir more conflict with his Islamist opponents.
 
With little or no sign of a campaign against the draft - one moderately Islamist party says its activists were arrested while campaigning for a no-vote - it is expected to pass easily, backed by many Egyptians who staged mass protests on June 30 against Morsi and the Brotherhood before his removal.
 
“We are here for two reasons: to eradicate the Brotherhood and take our rights in the constitution,” said Gamal Zeinhom, a 54-year-old standing in line at a Cairo polling station.
 
Others cited a desire to bring stability to Egypt after three years of turmoil.
 
Failed experiment
 

El Sissi ousted Morsi, Egypt's first freely-elected head of state, last July. His Islamist opponents say he is the mastermind of a coup that kindled the worst internal strife in Egypt's modern history and revived an oppressive police state.
 
But after a failed experiment with democracy, many are weary of the upheaval that has gripped this nation of 85 million and shattered its economy. They see El Sissi, 59, as someone who can stabilize and protect Egypt from what local media depict as foreign and domestic conspiracies to divide the nation.
 
El Sissi inspected a polling station after voting began, dressed in desert-colored fatigues and wearing his trademark dark sunglasses. The two-day vote ends on Wednesday.
 
A Sissi presidency would mark a return to the days when the post was controlled by army men - a pattern broken by Morsi's year in office.
 
Brotherhood supporters staged protests in at least four cities. Police arrested 65 Brotherhood supporters who were trying to obstruct voting, security officials said.
 
The bloodiest clashes were in Sohag, south of Cairo, and in Giza on the outskirts of the capital, the health ministry said in an emailed statement.
 
Local officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said four Brotherhood supporters were killed in Sohag and more than 20 wounded, in addition to three policemen.
 
But the Interior Ministry said Brotherhood supporters had killed four people and wounded nine more, including a police officer, when they opened fire on passers-by to stop them reaching polling stations, the state news agency reported.
 
Four people were also killed in clashes in Giza, two of whom were shot head in the village of Kerdasa, a bastion of Islamist support. Security sources identified them as Brotherhood supporters.
 
A man was also killed in Beni Suef, south of Cairo.
 
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), a Geneva-based group that works to uphold the rule of law, described the draft constitution as highly flawed.
 
“The referendum campaign has taken place within a context of fear, intimidation and repression, calling into question the fairness of the entire process,” it said in a statement.
 
The government has recently escalated its crackdown on the Brotherhood, declaring it a “terrorist organization” on Dec. 25. Al Qaeda-inspired militants have stepped up attacks on security forces since Morsi's ouster.
 
While the government has linked the attacks to the Brotherhood, the group has repeatedly said it is a non-violent movement committed to peaceful resistance to the state.
 
But the security clampdown - hundreds of Islamists have been killed and thousands arrested - has taken the steam out of protests while fuelling anger among young Islamists. Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders have been arrested and are on trial.
 
Underlining how the political picture has changed since Morsi's downfall, Mubarak asked for permission to vote in this referendum, his lawyer Fareed El Deeb said. It was not immediately clear whether Mubarak - who faces retrial for his role in the killing of protesters in 2011 - would get to vote.
 
While Western states have criticized the crackdown and called for inclusive politics, they have put little pressure on Cairo. Egypt, which controls the Suez Canal, has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Middle East since the 1970s, when it became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel.
 
The government has been supported by Gulf Arab states hostile to the Brotherhood. They jumped to Egypt's rescue after Morsi's overthrow, offering billions of dollars in aid.
 
The U.S. Congress' new spending bill would restore more than $1.5 billion in military and economic aid to Egypt, largely cut off after Morsi's ouster, but would make the funding conditional on Egypt taking steps toward restoring democracy.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: azza radwan sedky from: Cairo, Egypt
January 15, 2014 4:05 AM
A vote on a Constitution it was not. It was "A Vote of Confidence, no more no less" http://azzasedky.typepad.com/egypt/2014/01/a-vote-of-confidence-no-more-no-less.html


by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
January 15, 2014 3:59 AM
Overthrowing freely-elected president cannot be a democratic process. It's a highway robbery! The victims are innocent civilians who paid heavy prices....and we all should know now who are the real losers!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid